National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil
Annual Report 1996-97
The National Plan Advisory Committee was represented at a number of forums where major issues involving the marine environment were given priority.
In conjunction with the AMSA's Rescue Coordination Centre, the Marine Environment Protection Services Division called for tenders for the provision of near real time meteorological and oceanographic data and drift and trajectory modelling capabilities for Australian waters. The aim of this proposal is the development of a joint Search and Rescue/Oil Spill Trajectory Model (SAR/OSTM).
Work continued on the development of the National Maritime Chemical Spill Contingency Plan, Coastal Resource Atlases, National Oil on the Sea Identification Database, National Wildlife Response Plan and Bioremediation R&D programs.
Financial statements reporting the cost of National Plan administration and operations are reviewed by KMPG and are included at Financial Statements.
The operating deficit of $22,194 for the 1996/97 financial year was in line with the 'break even over time' policy set by Government. Revenue from the Protection of the Sea Levy provided the main source of funding for National Plan operations, with some additional funding from equipment hire. Income from the Protection of the Sea Levy increased by approximately 1.0% compared with the previous year. The Protection of the Sea Levy remained at 3.3 cents per ton.
Total income received during the 1996/97 financial year decreased by $441,602 compared with the previous year. The decrease in incident revenue and expenditure is primarily a consequence of there being no significant oil spill responses throughout the year.
Revenue from National Plan equipment hire for commercial use increased in 1996/97 from $11,575 in 1995/96 to $134,005 due to a rise in the demand for the hire of National Plan equipment by industry for contingency plan arrangements.
National Plan expenditure decreased by 5.8% from 1995/96, with total expenses of $3,937,723. Staff costs increased this financial year primarily due to the filling of the plant inspector position which has been vacant for five months in the previous financial year, and the restructure of one position into two permanent part time positions. The increase in materials and services expenditure is largely a result of the establishment of the fixed wing capability contract and a one-off payment to partially fund the ballast water research program.
As at 30 June 1997 the National Plan's total assets were $10,181,760 compared with total liabilities of $602,570. This places the National Plan in a very sound financial position, with equity totalling $9,579,190.
On 9 October 1996 the 1992 Protocols amending the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1969 and the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1971 came into force for Australia.
The Protocols increased Australia's entitlement to be compensated for oil spills from oil tankers flying the flag of any country from the current maximum of some $A120 million to a maximum limit of $A220 million for each incident.
Instruments of denunciation were lodged with the International Maritime Organization in respect of both the 1969 and 1971 Conventions. This was an obligation placed on parties to the 1992 Protocols and will ensure the higher limits are applicable to all tanker spills, regardless of the vessel's flag State.
Membership of the international Civil Liability and Fund Conventions provides certainty of reimbursement of pollution combat costs, pollution damage and direct economic loss. Other benefits of the new arrangements include the extension of the area of operation of the convention to the edge of Australia's 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the inclusion of the bunkers of tankers on ballast voyages and the clarification of the pollution damage included in convention coverage to cover reasonable costs of reinstatement of the marine environment.
A number of inquiries and audits concerning the operation of the National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil have been conducted over recent years. The status of the recommendations of these reviews is as follows: