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Strategic Coordinating Group established in response to oil spill – 519/2023

By August 2, 2023 No Comments

His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has established a Strategic Coordinating Group in response to yesterday’s oil spill in the Bay of Gibraltar. Chaired by the Minister for Civil Contingencies Samantha Sacramento and attended by the Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani and the Minister for Environment John Cortes, the Group convened for the first time this morning at No 6 Convent Place.


Spill from Gas Venus

The Captain of the Port was able to confirm that the oil spilled from the Gas Venus was Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil. A rough estimate of between 1000 and 2000 litres of oil was spilt to sea.


Impact localised

The Captain of the Port provided a situational update, confirming that the most of the released oil is now concentrated in the areas of Camp Bay, Rosia Bay and Little Bay, with a portion of the area known as Seven Sisters also affected. There is currently no indication of free-floating oil any farther South of Little Bay, or any further North of Seven Sisters.


Within this context, there are no remaining large patches of free-floating oil in the Bay. The Gibraltar Port Authority currently has 8 launches deployed to tackle free-floating sheen that is emanating from the heavy oil collected on the coastline. There is no expectation of further heavy oil landing onshore.


Progress on coastal clean-up

Considerable work was done yesterday by the GPA and Department of Environment’s oil spill response team, in conjunction with Brightside, and significant progress is also expected to be made throughout the course of today in removing heavy oil that is stranded on Gibraltar’s coastline.

The priority areas are currently Camp Bay and the area between Camp Bay and Rosia Bay, where the largest amounts of oil have been deposited and which is a marine protected area. In a two-pronged approach, teams have been deployed to conduct shoreside clean-up at low tide, whilst the GPA continue to tackle free-floating sheen from sea.


Although the full Environmental impact from the spill will take a number of weeks to quantify, the Department of Environment are taking detailed records and ecological surveys in order to conduct a full investigation.


Fortunately, there have been no reports of oiled seabirds to date. A washing bay has been mobilised and is ready for use. The public are urged to report any sightings of oiled seabirds to the Environmental Research and Protection Unit on 58009620.


Low risk to Public Health – avoid local seafood

The Director of Public Health has advised that whilst the general risk to the population is low, the public should avoid eating locally-caught fish and seafood due to the possibility of contamination. The public are asked not to fish from the shoreline or within the Bay.


Camp Bay, Little Bay and Rosia Bay closed

Camp Bay, Little Bay and Rosia Bay beaches remain closed to the public whilst the coastal cleanup is underway.

The pools at Camp Bay are open for public use.

Beach attendants normally posted to these areas have been redeployed to other areas in order to meet increased public demand, including the Europa Pool and the Bathing Pavilion.

The Government takes this opportunity to thank the public for their patience and understanding as we work to reduce the impact on the bathing season as far as reasonably possible.


The Minister for Civil Contingencies, the Hon Samantha Sacramento, said: ‘I’d like to thank and commend all those whose quick action has brought the impact of yesterday’s oil spill under control. Significant progress has been made so far and the clear aim for today is to mitigate the risk of shoreside heavy oil washing back into the sea. I’d also like to thank our local NGOs for their support and work alongside the Gibraltar Port Authority, the Department of Environment and Brightside in the clean-up effort, and not least, the public for their understanding as we work to limit the environmental damage and impact on the bathing season.’