LYON, France, November 14, 2018 (ENS) – A month-long international law enforcement operation against maritime pollution has revealed hundreds of violations and exposed serious cases of contamination worldwide.

Code named 30 Days at Sea, the operation in October saw 276 law enforcement and environmental agencies across 58 countries detect more than 500 offenses. The crimes included illegal discharges of oil and garbage from vessels, shipbreaking, breaches of ship emissions regulations, pollution on rivers and land-based runoff to the sea.

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Interpol official monitors vessels for signs of illegal discharge. 2018 (Photo courtesy Interpol)

Steered by a global network of 122 national coordinators, 30 Days at Sea involved environmental, maritime and border agencies, national police forces, customs, and port authorities.

More than 5,200 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.

“Marine pollution creates health hazards worldwide which undermine sustainable development and requires a multi-agency, multi-sector cooperative response within a solid global security architecture,” said Stock.

Serious contamination was identified in the dumping of animal farm waste into Philippine coastal waters where local communities collect shellfish and children play.

In Germany, a vessel discharged 600 liters 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 liters of oil.

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The pollution threat resulting from the collision of two ships in French waters was contained due to preventive action during the operation, averting an environmental disaster. 2018 (Photo courtesy Interpol)

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 enabled authorities to detect offenses, including the use of satellite images in Argentina and Sweden; aerial surveillance in Canada and Italy; drones in Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan; and night vision cameras.

In a shift towards prevention, visible surveillance technologies used in Qatar and Norway resulted in stricter compliance with regulations.

UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim said that the issue of illegal marine pollution is one that global communities may be able to tackle successfully in the next decade.

“But we need the help of our law enforcement partners to make sure that there is no immunity for the perpetrators of marine pollution crime,” said Solheim.

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More than 5,200 inspections, like this vessel inspection in the Philippines’ Cebu port, have resulted in over 185 investigations. (Photo courtesy Interpol)

“This is why law enforcement must team up on a global scale to build strong international links with specialized experts so we can tackle this devastating crime while ensuring a healthier, safer planet for all,” responded Wil van Gemert, deputy executive director of Europol, Operations Directorate.

Interpol’s Pollution Crime Working Group launched Operation 30 Days at Sea in response to a call to boost international law enforcement action against emerging environmental crime through action in the field.

Coordinated by Interpol’s Environmental Security Programme in close partnership with Europol, 30 Days at Sea was driven by a range of cooperative enforcement actions, including:

* – Joint tactical planning between countries such as Canada and the United States, as well as Indonesia with Timor Leste;
* – The global deployment of multi-agency task forces, including a year-long cooperative effort between South African national agencies targeting pollution crimes at sea;
* – Bilateral joint investigations such as The Netherlands with South Africa, and Germany with Belgium;
* – Understanding pollution crime

30 Days at Sea is followed by an awareness campaign in partnership with UN Environment to illustrate the impact marine pollution has on economic development and human and environmental security.

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