Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 63–76

Maritime oil spills— Environmental lessons and experiences with special reference to low-risk coastlines

  • Ritchie W. 

DOI: 10.1007/BF02835563

Cite this article as:
Ritchie, W. J Coast Conserv (1995) 1: 63. doi:10.1007/BF02835563


Oil spill contingency plans are available for most coastlines but the amount of useful environmental data is variable. The information should be held on a GIS base. High risk areas should be identified and the pre-existing store of environmental knowledge should be commensurately extensive and should be available in considerable spatial detail. Contingency plans still depend on basic lists of coastal types as defined by static, sediment based shoreline characteristics. There is a lack of dynamic, process information. TheBraer oil spill of 1993 provides a case study of the application of sound coastal geomorphological and ecological data to impact assessment. Monitoring of the ecological effects of this massive oil spill reinforces other research which indicates that most coastlines can recover naturally from oil spills, and that oil spill clean up techniques may not necessarily benefit rapid shoreline recovery. Although pre-existing environmental informations is important, the key decisions must be taken quickly and are frequently judgmental and, therefore, place a premium on gathering appropriate scientific expertise to the site of the spill as soon as possible and with sufficient powers to affect both the oil spill response, to initiate early surveys of damage and to facilitate the initial monitoring programme.


Braer oil spillContingency planningCoastal information baseShoreline recovery

List of Acronyms


Oil Companies' International Study Group for Conservation of Clean Air and Water


Contract Regarding A Supplement to Tanker Liability for Oil Pollution


Ecological Steering Group on the Oil Spill in Shetland


Food And Environment Protection Act (on Fig. 1 this box defined area from which no food products, especially fish of all types could be harvested)


Geographic Information System


International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund


International Tanker Owners' Pollution Federation


Marine Environmental High Risk Areas


Survey Clean-up Assessment Team


Special Protection Area


Site of Special Scientific Interest


Tanker Owners' Voluntary Agreement for Liability For Oil Pollution

Copyright information

© EUCC 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ritchie W. 
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AberdeenAberdeenScotland, UK
  2. 2.Vice-Cancellor's OfficeLancaster UniversityLancasterUK