Lord Hardy of Wath
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will take steps to secure effective international agreement to prevent or minimise the risk of oil spillage at sea. [HL476]
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston
The international forum for achieving agreement on these issues is the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and, indeed, a number of international conventions have been put in place through negotiation in the IMO, notably: the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL), which restricts discharges from ships, including oil; the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990 (OPRC), which aims to provide a global framework for international co-operation in combating actual or threatened oil pollution at sea; there is an International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, established within the framework of the International Convention of Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1969 (CLC) and the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1971 (IOPC Fund Convention), and the Protocols of 1992 to both of these conventions. This regime provides compensation where oil pollution damage from tankers affects states which are parties to the CLC and the IOPC Fund Convention. The United Kingdom has ratified each of these agreements and we actively encourage others to do so too.There will be a diplomatic conference to adopt an international convention on civil liability for pollution damage caused by bunker oil (mainly, but not exclusively, the oil which is used to fuel the ships' own engines) in London on 19 to 23 March 2001, and the UK has played a positive role in the preparation of the draft agreement.