Prestige oil tanker disaster caused high death toll in seabird population

Nov 13, 2003 01:00 AM

Up to 4,000 of Scotland's seabird population died following the Prestige oil tanker disaster, according to statistics. RSPB Scotland said thousands of Scottish puffins were washed up dead off the coast of Spain following the spill, which led to over 60,000 tons of oil seeping into the sea.
The Prestige broke up and sank off Galicia on 13 November last year, devastating the local fishing industry and covering hundreds of beaches with oil.

Darren Kindleysides, from RSPB Scotland, said governments should do more to protect seabirds.
He said: "After the breeding season some birds move elsewhere, where they are subject to threats, such as oil spills. This incident was avoidable. Governments at home and abroad must take urgent measures to protect the most sensitive parts of Europe's coast and seas from future shipping disasters."

He said that work carried out by the RSPB's sister organisation in Spain -- Sociedad Espanola de Ornitología -- showed that the majority of the puffins affected came from north and west Scotland. And nearly all the guillemots and razorbills originated from colonies around the Irish Sea.
RSPB Scotland said that 13,000 tons of oil still remained in the wreck. Oil from the 26-year-old single-hulled tanker has polluted the seas bordering the Spanish, Portuguese and French coasts. The Spanish government said that cleaning up the Prestige oil spill will cost at least EUR 1 bn ($ 1.1 bn) -- excluding the cost of tax rebates and work on the sunken tanker.

Source: BBC
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