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The environmental impact of marine oil spills - effects, recovery and compensation (1998)
22 May 2014
Dr Brian Dicks
Paper presented at the International Seminar on Tanker Safety, Pollution Prevention, Spill Response and Compensation, 6 November 1998, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The short-term effects of oil spills on marine species and communities are well known and predictable. However, concerns are often raised about possible longer-term ("sub-lethal") population effects through, for example, low levels of residual oil affecting the ability of certain species to breed successfully. In fact, extensive research and detailed post-spill studies have shown that many components of the marine environment are highly resilient to short-term adverse changes in the environment in which they live and that, as a consequence, a major oil spill will rarely cause permanent effects.
This paper briefly summarises the impact of oil spills on different components of the marine environment, as well as the potential for natural recovery and man-made restoration/re-instatement measures, as envisaged under the international compensation Conventions.