Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - The Erika and other recent oil spills form a continuing catalogue of disasters that have taken place in Community waters, including the Braer spill off Shetland and the Sea Empress of Wales. These catastrophes in addition to causing irreparable ecological damage have devastated local industries. In the case of the Erika, the local fishing and aquaculture industries suffered a bitter blow and it is important not just to look at the harmful effects that are apparent in the immediate aftermath, but also to look ahead at the long-term detrimental effects of oil pollution. Effective compensation is essential. It is time that shipping safety within the Community was tightened up and that greater controls were introduced, including bringing an end to the use of flags of convenience which is also increasingly resorted to. The companies responsible, the ship and the cargo owners must pay up for their negligence. Current compensation funds have been inadequately funded and this was all too apparent in the case of the Braer disaster where the Shetland Islands fishing industry was inadequately compensated for its losses. Maritime disasters are usually followed by flurries of political activity which sound reassuring at the time but which have not always been followed through. Let us ensure that adequate measures are instigated throughout Europe and that lessons learned lead to decisive political action.

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