The International Law of the World Ocean Protection from Oil Pollution

Author Name(s): Ksenia B. Valiullina, Adel I. Abdullin
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The  role  of  the  World  Ocean  in  the  global  life-support system can’t be overestimated. Covering 2/3 of the surface of our planet, it is the largest supplier of  Earth’s  oxygen  and  the  carbon  dioxide  sink.  It participates in climate formation, accumulating heat in summer  and  giving  up  it  in  winter; it  ensures a continuous supply of food, consumed by the world’s population.  Nevertheless,  over  many  decades,  the seas and oceans are rapidly becoming contaminated from all  possible  sources.  Practically,  there  are  no reservoirs in the world, the water in which is suitable for drinking. They would have ceased to exist long ago    without    their    daily    replenishment    with wastewater, poisoned with all sorts of substances and synthetic compounds. The sources of pollution of the marine environment are very diverse and numerous. One  of  the  largest  environmental  problems  of  the states  today  is  the  pollution  of  the  environment, including   the    marine    pollution    with   oil   and petroleum   products.   This   occurs   as   due   to   the violation of mining and processing technology, as a result of accidents of ships, carrying oil in bulk, and in the process of their daily activities. Obviously, the importance  of  oil  in  the  modern  economy  is  very high,  as  its  use  largely  determines  the  degree  of economic  development  of  any  state.  Most  of  it  is used  to  produce  all  kinds  of  fuel  (gasoline,  diesel, ship fuel, liquefied gas, aviation fuel, heating oil). In addition, oil is used to create synthetic materials, in the production of electricity and heat. At the same time,  it  should  be  noted,  that  the  use  of  oil  and petroleum  products,  practically  at  all  stages,  from extraction to processing, involves the generation of a large amount of wastes. As a result of emissions or incineration,  they  release  to  the  land,  water  or  the atmosphere,  and  cause  irreparable  damage  to  the environment  and  human  health.  According  to  the experts,  millions  of  tons  of  oil  products  annually enter  the  waters  of  the  World  Ocean.  Due  to  this, some of the territories of seas and oceans are almost constantly covered with a dense film, oxygen-tight and  destructive  for  living  organisms  and  marine inhabitants.  The  article  assesses  the  environmental situation in the world, with regard to the protection of  the  World  Ocean  from  oil  pollution.  The  main sources of oil and petroleum products, entering the seas and oceans were defined; and the need for the states   to   cooperate   in   ensuring   the   universal environmental security, through the compliance with convention provisions, was established in the article.


“Everything    in    nature    is    linked    by    subtle

connections. And due to this, the study of nature must be carried out holistically –in such a way as not to violate   these   connections;   it   is   necessary   to penetrate   into   the   secrets   of   nature   without destroying, but preserving and improving it. “

M.V. Keldysh

The concept of the World Ocean was developed by the  Russian  scientist,  oceanographer,  cartographer Yu.M. Shokalsky. He determines the World Ocean as a continuous water shell of the Earth, a common feature of which is the salinity of the oceans and seas, inflowing  into  it.  For  a  long  time,  the  indicated ability of the marine environment to dissolve all the entering   pollutants,   as   well   as   the   activity   of microscopic algae in the purification of marine and oceanic waters, have contributed to the formation of an  idea  of the  unlimited  possibilities  of  the  World Ocean for self-purification. It was assumed, that the colossal volume of the ocean, containing about 1300 million  cubic   km  would   manage  to   ensure  the dilution of all the incoming harmful impurities to a safe     level.     Nevertheless,     this     assumption, unfortunately,  turned  out  to  be  erroneous.  Despite the  existing  ability  of  the  World  Ocean  to  self- purification, and taking into account the presence in its environment of 45.5  billion of salts, capable of reducing the concentration of impurities, poisonous compounds  enter  the  circulation  of  substances  in ecosystems  almost  immediately  after  entering  the water, without waiting for dilution. Considering, that there are 75,000 vessels of the merchant fleet in the World  Ocean  and  more  than  17,000  warships,  the scale of pollution is enormous. Rapid pollution of the Ocean  by  household  rubbish,  plastics,  sewage,  oil and  petroleum  products,  chemical  and  radioactive substances,  and  the  studies  of  the  state  of  marine environment   indicate   that   the   process   of   self- purification   of   the   World   Ocean   has   slowed significantly.


Obviously, to ensure the strict compliance with all the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, and other international treaties and agreements in the field of protection the oceans from oil pollution, is for many reasons a long and  labor-intensive  process,  which  can  be  realized only with the support of international organizations, on the basis of international law and in the process of close cooperation of states, on the worldwide and regional basis. Currently, it is possible to fight with the  unwillingness  of  large  companies  to  carry  out environmentally  sound  activities,  as  through  the system   of   financial   penalties,   with   compulsory accounting of received multi-billion profit, as well as through   benefits   for   “clean”   activity,   from   the ecological   point   of   view,   when   the   priority   of environmental  safety  will  be  assessed  neither  as punishment,  but  as  the  emergence  of  additional economic  opportunities.  Nevertheless,  to  date,  the main contribution to protection and preservation the marine environment from oil pollution is provided, above all, by scientists, who develop new methods of oil collection after the spills. Summing up the research, we would like to quote the words of the great researcher of the World Ocean and the sea depths Zh.I. Kusto: “We should not allow to poison  the  World  Ocean  forever,  at  the  very time, when we only begun to understand, what it can give to science, began to learn how to live in its bosom”.


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