An oil spill portends an environmental catastrophe that threatens the global Socotra archipelago

English - Sunday 29 January 2023 الساعة 02:13 pm
Socotra, NewsYemen, exclusive:

Black spots on the shores of the Delisha area, east of the city of Hadiboh, the center of the Socotra archipelago, revealed a serious oil spill from the stranded oil tanker on the coast of the archipelago since 2018.

Activist Abdullah Badahn published pictures and video recordings confirming the appearance of black oil materials covering large areas of the coast surrounding the Delisha area, amid urgent warnings of an environmental disaster threatening marine life on Socotra Island.

The oil ship called "Dove Gulf" or as it is also called "Dove of the Gulf", is one of the dilapidated ships that belong to the well-known businessman "Ahmed Saleh Al-Eisi".  The ship ran aground at the end of 2018. The lower tanks of the ship began to erode due to the echo and movement of waves, which resulted in serious leakages.

big danger

 When you visit the coast of Delisha, east of Hadiboh, you will find the coastline black and the sea water is no longer pure blue, as is the case in the rest of the unique areas of the island.

Waves, black sand, and dead fish scattered on the coast due to the oil spill caused by the stranded oil tanker years ago.

The ship was carrying about 7,000 metric tons of oil derivatives. It ran aground on the coast of Delisha, east of the port of Hulf, 15 kilometers from the capital, Hadibu. Since its delinquency until now, the relevant government agencies have not taken or taken any steps, procedures, or measures to remove the ship that  The island, which is classified globally as one of the natural and rare islands, threatens.

 Activist Abdullah Badahn issued warnings of a serious environmental disaster threatening marine life, especially since the Delisha area is one of the most important areas rich in unique coral reefs, being a beautiful tourist area.

Badhan appealed to the concerned authorities, led by the local authorities, the Ministry of Environment and relevant organizations, to investigate the incident and take the necessary action to avoid the negative effects of the disaster as much as possible, ensure that it does not recur, and hold those responsible accountable.

According to the information, the ship "Dove of the Gulf" belongs to the "Overseas Shipping" company owned by Ahmed Al-Eisi (the businessman controlling the trade in oil imports).  It is a rickety vessel operating without permits and unsuitable for sailing.

 And the leadership of the General Authority for Environmental Protection in Socotra confirms that there is a move by a technical team under the direction of the leadership of the local authority in order to go down to the abandoned ship and evaluate it on the ground, and submit a detailed report on its status and possible ways to remove its danger that threatens the environmental and marine life on the island.

The island is in danger

 In 2008, Socotra Island was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List for its rich biodiversity.  It has more than 900 different and rare plants, most of which are not found anywhere else in the world.  In addition to its rare animal and marine diversity, which makes it a rare natural reserve that needs to be preserved.

The presence of the "Pigeon of the Gulf" tanker poses real environmental risks to the island, which is included in the world heritage, as oil leakage into the sea will greatly harm coral reefs and marine life.  Not to mention the economic impacts on citizens who depend mainly on fishing as their source of income.

According to officials in the port of Socotra and the General Authority for Environmental Protection, the ship stranded off the coast of Delisha has begun to decompose, and more than one diversion has been documented on the shores of the area opposite its stranding.  Pointing out that dire consequences may befall the island and distort its beautiful image, coral reefs and rich fish resources.

 The officials stressed the need to move to take urgent measures to avoid the disasters of this tanker, which was left deserted on the coast for years, and today it has become an environmental, economic and tourist threat to the island.

Other disasters for Al-Eisi

 The oil tanker "Dove Gulf" in Socotra is no different from the rest of the stranded oil ships belonging to Al-Eisi, which are located in the capital, Aden, the city of Mukalla in Hadramout, Al-Mahrah, and Lahj.  They are ships that have been abandoned for years on the coast of Yemen, and have become threatening marine pollution if the matter is not remedied and recovered.

The reports of the General Authority for Maritime Affairs indicate that there are 12 dilapidated and threatened ships on the coast of Aden that are expired and unregistered and do not have flags or operating permits, and they were suspended from maritime navigation before the start of the war in Yemen in March 2015, and all of them belong to the company "  Overseas Cargo, a subsidiary of Al-Essa Company.  Add to this other rickety ships in: Mukalla, Socotra, Al-Mahra and Lahj, near the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

During the last period, a similar oil spill was documented on the shores of Brega from the “TAMBA” tanker that had drifted since 2015, as well as the “Champion 1” tanker that had drifted aground in the port of Mukalla since 2013.

The General Authority for Environmental Protection issued a lot of statements and appeals to the higher government authorities, to expedite the unloading of oil materials that are still stored inside the tanks and engines of dilapidated ships, which threaten serious environmental damage, not to mention their commercial risks to the ports of Aden and Mukalla.

 The sources in the Public Authority for 

Environmental Protection in the capital, Aden, indicated that there are 7 oil ships belonging to Al-Eisi, all of which have gone out of service and turned into marine waste, which are located in Al-Makhtafa in the port of Aden.  These rickety ships have become time bombs that threaten great environmental damage, not to mention economic and commercial damage to the navigation movement to and from the port of Aden.

According to information, the oil leaks of Al-Eisi's dilapidated ships have doubled over the past years due to the continuous corrosion of the ships' hulls.  Many leakages were documented on the beaches of: Aden, Hadramout and Lahj, as a result of which the golden sands of the coast turned black.  In addition, the great damage caused by these leaks to the marine and coastal environment.

Legal and official action

 In mid-January 2023, the Commercial Court in the capital, Aden, decided to sell a group of dilapidated and stranded ships in the port of Aden - most of which belonged to Al-Eisi - as "marine debris."

The Ministry of Transport media said that the Commercial Court of First Instance in Aden issued a decision to sell dilapidated ships as marine debris.  The fact that its presence constitutes a source of danger to the course of the navigational channel of the port of Aden and the marine environment in general.

The decision came in response to the urgent request submitted to the court by the Gulf of Aden Ports Corporation and the General Authority for Maritime Affairs against the owners of delinquent and dilapidated ships belonging to the Overseas Company.

The Ministry of Transport expressed its aspiration to implement the decision as soon as possible, in order to preserve the public interest.

On August 16, 2022, the General Authority for Maritime Affairs and the Arabian Sea Ports Corporation in Hadramout issued a statement calling on the owners of sunken and abandoned ships in the ports of: Mukalla and Al-Mahra, to urgently remove the wrecks of their ships from the ports within fifteen days of the announcement in accordance with the provisions of Yemeni Maritime Law No. 15 of the year  1994, or removed at the expense of the owners.