|Mission accomplished: chronic North Sea oil pollution now at acceptable levels, with Common Guillemots as sentinels|
Camphuysen, C.J. (2022). Mission accomplished: chronic North Sea oil pollution now at acceptable levels, with Common Guillemots as sentinels. Seabird (2008) 34(1): 1-32
In: Seabird (2008). Seabird Group: Thetford. ISSN 1757-5842, meer
Marine oil pollution has been an issue of concern for at least a century. The earliest reportscontained outrage over oil-contaminated dead seabirds found ashore. This paper reports onobserved trends in strandings and oil rates of Common Guillemots Uria aalge to illustrate thehistory of oil pollution and its effects in the North Sea. This paper is also a tribute to Peter HopeJones, who brought systematic beached bird surveys and oil-spill impact assessments to a higherlevel, by implementing detailed research on affected wildlife. In recent decades, unexpectedly, theoil problem has disappeared almost completely from the North Sea. Given the global nature ofcurrent environmental issues, including the climate and biodiversity crises, it may be instructive toexamine the background to this stunning success. A short history is presented, including themeasures taken to reduce the oil problem. It required a succession of major oil incidents to pushthe community into action. The process of international conventions was notoriously slow, and theimplementation of concrete measures even slower, as economic arguments prevailed to preventor delay immediate action.