An international law enforcement operation against maritime pollution has revealed hundreds of violations and exposed serious cases of contamination worldwide. Codenamed 30 Days at Sea, the month-long (1-31 October) operation saw some 276 law enforcement and environmental agencies across 58 countries detect more than 500 offences, including illegal discharges of oil and garbage from vessels, shipbreaking, breaches of ship emissions regulations, and pollution on rivers and land-based runoff to the sea. More than 5200 inspections have resulted in at least 185 investigations, with arrests and prosecutions anticipated.
“Criminals believe marine pollution is a low-risk crime with no real victims. This is a mistake and one which INTERPOL and our partners are addressing as demonstrated by this operation,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock. Cases of serious contamination included the dumping of animal farm waste in Philippine coastal waters where local communities collect shellfish and children play. In Germany, a vessel discharged 600 litres of palm oil into the sea. Ghana uncovered gallons of waste oil in large bottles thought to be illegally dumped at sea. Authorities prevented an environmental disaster in Albania by securing waters around a sinking vessel containing some 500 litres of oil. Similarly, the pollution threat resulting from the collision of two ships in French waters was contained thanks to preventive action during the operation.
Innovative technologies permitted authorities to detect offences, including the use of satellite images (in Argentina and Sweden), aerial surveillance (Canada and Italy), drones (Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan) and night vision cameras.
Excerpt from Marine pollution crime: first global multi-agency operation, Interpol Press Release, Nov. 13, 2018