German experts call for better sea safety

Official report recommends better emergency management, centralised coastguard service

A group of German experts have called for coastguard services in the country's four states bordering the Wadden Sea to be merged into one central agency in a bid to avoid future marine pollution incidents. Published on Wednesday, the experts' report was commissioned last year by Germany's transport ministry after the Pallas oil tanker ran aground in the Wadden Sea, causing significant pollution (ENDS Daily 6 January 1999). The group also calls for a new national marine accident authority to be created.

Under the present system, a central marine information centre on Germany's north-west coast records accident information and reports this to a series of separate protection authorities. The experts argue that centralising the system is vital to handle the effects of any future spills.

The report makes 30 recommendations on national and international maritime safety, marine and coastline protection, management of emergencies, and compensation rights. Some of its suggestions, such as the need to present European maritime and compensation proposals to the International Maritime Organisation, mirror a Franco-German sea safety initiative launched earlier this month, following December's Erika oil spill off France's Atlantic coast (ENDS Daily 8 February). German transport minister Reinhard Klimmt has promised thorough testing of all proposed measures, while warning against expectations of absolute maritime safety.

Follow Up:
German transport ministry, tel: +49 30 20 08 20 40 and press release.

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