Marine Oil Spills Environment Impact

3409 Words Apr 10th, 2010 14 Pages
13th National Plan Environment and Scientific Coordinators Workshop 2004

The Environmental Impact Of Marine Oil Spills
Effects, Recovery and Compensation
Dr. Brian Dicks
Technical Team Manager, International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd Paper presented at the International Seminar on Tanker Safety, Pollution Prevention, Spill Response and Compensation, 6th November 1998, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

INTRODUCTION The short-term effects of oil spills on marine species and communities are well known and predictable. However, concerns are often raised about possible longer-term ("sub-lethal") population effects through, for example, low levels of residual oil affecting the ability of certain species to breed successfully. In fact,
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The following definition developed by a group of independent scientists takes these problems into account: “Recovery is marked by the re-establishment of a healthy biological community in which the plants and animals characteristic of that community are present and functioning normally. It may not have the same composition or age structure as that which was present before the damage, and will continue to show further change and development. It is impossible to say whether an ecosystem that has recovered from an oil spill is the same as, or different from, that which would have persisted in the absence of the spill.” Recovery depends upon both removal of oil which is toxic or physically smothering, and biological processes, e.g. settlement of larvae and growth of seedlings. Whilst clean-up is normally the first step in the recovery process, complete removal of all oil is not necessary - there are many examples of recovery progressing in the presence of weathered oil residues.

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13th National Plan Environment and Scientific Coordinators Workshop 2004

Whatever the extent of damage, the reproductive success of the survivors, as well as the influx of eggs, juveniles or adults from unaffected areas underpins the recovery process. Many marine species produce vast numbers of eggs and larvae which are widely distributed in the plankton by currents. This is a strategy to overcome high rates of
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