First global operation against marine pollution

With the codename 30 days at sea, the month-long operation (1-31 October 2018), 276 police forces and environmental organisms from 58 countries detected over 500 crimes and serious cases of worldwide pollution: like illegal pouring of petrol of waste from ships, breaking down and sinking of ships, violations of regulations and the contamination of rivers and land being tipped into the sea.

Directed by a global network of 122 national coordinators, environmental, maritime and cross border agencies, police forces, customs services and port authorities participated in the operation 30 days at sea. Over 5,200 inspections were carried out which involved at least 185 investigations, with the planned arrests and accusations.

Some cases of serious pollution are:

  • In the Philippine coastal waters, where local communities gather shellfish and where children play.
  • In Germany, a ship tipped 600 litres of palm oil into the sea.
  • Ghana discovered gallons of residual oil in large bottles that were being sold illegally by the sea.
  • The authorities prevented an environmental disaster in Albania by securing water around a recipient that was sinking with 500 litres of petrol on board.
  • Similarly, the threat of contamination due to a collision involving two ships in French waters was contained thanks to preventive action during the operation.

Apart from this, with the use of new technologies the authorities are able to detect offences, with the use of satellite (in Argentina and Sweden), air surveillance (Canada and Italy), drones (Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan) and night surveillance with cameras. In a prevention-oriented change, visible surveillance technologies used in Qatar and Norway prompted the obligation to strictly abide by norms.

The pollution crime work group of INTERPOL implemented 30 days at sea in response to the call to increase the action of international law against the emerging environmental crime, via actions in this field.

Coordinated by the programme of Environmental Security of INTERPOL in close collaboration with Europol, 30 days at sea was promoted by a series of actions of cooperation in terms of enforcement, including:

  • Joint tactical planning between countries (for example .: Canada – USA, Indonesia – East Timor);
  • Global deployment of police forces, including the annual cooperation between the national agencies of South Africa focused on sea pollution crime.
  • Joint bilateral investigations (for example, The Netherlands – South Africa, Germany, Belgium).
  • Awareness raising about sea contamination

30 days at sea was accompanied by an awareness raising campaign in collaboration within the context of the UN to illustrate the impact that marine contamination has on the development of the economy, and human and environmental security.

With the hashtag #PollutionCrime, along with #CleanSeas on Twitter, initiatives in the fight against crime involving marine contamination can be observed, thanks to the operation 30 days at sea.


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