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Historical Background

The late Greek ship owner, George P. Livanos, a dynamic personality both within the Greek and international maritime communities, expresses as far back as 1979 his concerns about the pollution of the oceans brought about by ships. He proclaims that “although ship-generated marine pollution is only a component of the total marine pollution problem, it is one that can virtually be eliminated with sufficient care and effort”. He believed it was each and every Greek seaman’s obligation to lead the worldwide efforts to change the habits of all within the international maritime community. 

In actual fact, preceding this, the following events occurred within international shipping as well as the voting in of International Conventions and Regulations for the fight against ship-generated pollution, while the first International Conference on the Environment had taken place.

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil that was amended in 1962, 1969 and 1971 by the then International Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) and since 1982 the International Maritime Organization – IMO.

International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea – IMCO

The oil tanker, TORREY CANYON runs aground on the shores of Cornwall, England and the 120,000 tons of crude oil spilled triggers a massive pollution incident in the sea and along the coast until ultimately it is sunk by the English Air Force.

International Conventions on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties – IMCO.

International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage – IMCO.

Declaration on the Human Environment – UN Stockholm Conference.

International Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter – IMCO

Adoption of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, MARPOL – IMCO.

Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution – UN.

AMOCO CADIZ runs aground on the shores of Brittany, France, leading to 220,000 tons of crude oil and 4,000 tons of fuel oil being spilled into the sea and along the coastline.

On 4 June 1982, the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association-HELMEPA is founded in Piraeus. The Founding Declaration of Voluntary Commitment “To Save the Seas” and Action Plan are signed by representatives of the Greek Shipowners’ Association and the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation. The Declaration is co-signed by the following five organizations that are internationally distinguished for their positive environmental activity;

  –  The Club of Rome
–  The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Nature Resources (IUCN)
–  World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
–  The International Ocean Institute (IOI)
–  The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

Eventually, one year after HELMEPA is founded, IMO’s International Convention, MARPOL 73/78 and its Annex addressing oil pollution prevention enter into force in October 1983.

Let's Save the Seas
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27 September 2020
Maritime Training Center for Pollution Prevention, Safety at Sea and Environmental Awareness
THE ASSOCIATION Historical Background