§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action is taken to ensure that the control of maritime dumping from vessels is strictly enforced; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Gummer
Maritime dumping from vessels is controlled by the licensing provisions of part II of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 administered by my Department. Licences for disposal of industrial waste, sewage sludge and dredged spoil are not issued unless careful scientific examination shows the operation in question to be acceptable in terms of its impact on the marine environment, the living resources that it supports and human health, and unless it conforms to the relevant international conventions. The practical availability of alternative methods of dealing with the wastes is also taken into account.
Departmental scientific staff and officers of my Sea Fisheries Inspectorate carry out inspections to enforce the provisions of the 1985 Act. Checks, often unannounced, are made of licensed disposal operations from the point of production to deposit in the sea. Investigations are mounted into allegations of unauthorised disposals. The Ministry's surveillance aircraft are also used for enforcement purposes.
Responsibility for the deposit of sewage and rubbish originating on a vessel rests with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.