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Oil spill Louisiana: disasters like these just a matter of time


Wetlands International is very concerned about the devastating threats of the BP oil spill on the south coast of the US. This disaster shows the permanent threat of offshore oil winning on very precious natural areas. The precautionary principle should be applied when considering oil winning activities in similarly highly vulnerable coastal areas. 

Wetlands International is very concerned about the impacts of the oil spill along the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The coastal wetlands of the Mississippi Delta are home to a wealth of species and to fishing grounds which support a thriving economy. Endangered species such as the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus), five species of sea turtle and many bird species such as the American Wood Stork, Piping Plover and Roseate Tern are reliant on the delta.

Photo: Important nesting areas and habitats of the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) are under threat from the oil spill; these are juveniles. By Sander Carpay

Only a matter of time for a new oil spill disaster

Relatively speaking this oil spill may be an exceptional event but the threat is permanent. Among the countless examples are the near disaster in the Great Barrier Reef a few weeks ago and the major spill that destroyed many Black Sea wetlands in 2007. The Louisiana disaster shows that despite the highest standards and availability of the best technologies, risks like these can never be fully prevented. It is just a matter of chance and time before a new disaster takes place.

Only no-go zones can prevent future disasters in precious natural areas

The only solution to prevent devastating oil spills in the world’s most precious natural resources is to ban oil winning in these areas and in marine and freshwater areas and to use safe shipping routes. In doing so, strict application of the precautionary principle is required to avoid unacceptable risks. In this light it is crucial to review current emerging interests in offshore oil winning in the Arctic, one of the world’s most vulnerable areas. Other areas of concern where oil winning is planned or increasing in scale include the Bijagos Archipelago in Guinea Bissau, the Sudd in Sudan and oil fields in Antarctica. When precious areas like these are entered, it appears unavoidable that more disasters will occur.


For more information

Black Sea wetlands in 2007

Louisiana oil spill


Alex Kaat

Wetlands International

Ede, The Netherlands

Tel. +31 (0) 6 50601917 

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