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The truths they don't want you to read....

Friday, November 09, 2007

Going bananas

Bananas on the beachThe residents of Terschelling, a small island off the coast of the Netherlands, awoke to find their beaches littered with unripe bananas, as the photo shows.

Yet another cargo ship had lost containers overboard, these had obviously burst, and the contents had washed up on the beaches. Previously the islands have had a large number of other products appear from broken containers.

It was these experiences that persuaded KIMO to demand that EU Ministers create a protocol for liability by shipowners in the event that cargoes are lost overboard. The expectations were clear: shipowners carry insurance for the clearing up of the beaches should containers be lost, and they charge the customers accordingly.

I argued for this at the Council of Ministers of the North Sea Convention, but the shipowners - vociferously aided and abetted by the UK - vetoed any such proposal.

The end result is that the shores of the Western Isles remain exposed to cargoes being lost due to bad weather or bad luck and these washing up on our coast to pollute it.

The cost would be borne by you and I, and whilst in theory it could be recovered from the shipowner, in practice this involves a number of tax havens, flags of convenience and teams of very expensive lawyers denying any responsibility for their client whilst blaming another.

Luckily, we have escaped so far, but who is to say it will be something as innocuous as bananas next time.


Anonymous said...

If a cargo of Apple Ipods is lost overboard and washes up on the beaches of the Outer Hebrides, suspect you won't find too many residents complaining :-)

Anonymous said...

true, we didn't comp[lain when a certain ship lost its cargo in barra... we just made a movie....