The Civil Guard investigates 46 people for crimes related to marine pollution and waste trafficking

The high intensity operation was developed last October, led by Interpol worldwide and Europol for the European Union

More than 17,000 inspections have been carried out and 3,000 incidents related to spills into the sea have been detected worldwide

The Civil Guard, in the framework of Operation “30 days at sea”, directed by Interpol worldwide and coordinated by EUROPOL and FRONTEX among the EU member states, has investigated a total of 46 people for different related crimes marine pollution and waste trafficking, which face prison sentences of 6 months to 5 years and fines of up to 24 months. In Spain, more than 101 related incidents have been detected.

This operation corresponds to the second phase of a series of actions, developed at the initiative of INTERPOL, aimed at combating marine pollution worldwide in an effective way.
More than 61 countries around the world have participated in this operation through more than 200 agencies. In Spain, the Civil Guard Seprona has led the operation in which 1028 inspections have been carried out on ships, ports, related companies, facilities and places near the sea possible sources of spillage emission.
The investigations have been directed to the detection of residues in the sea, emissions of pollutant gases coming from the ships, discharges to the sea from coast and illegal traffic of waste.

Increase in coastal discharges

The investigations carried out by the Civil Guard in Spain have allowed the detection of up to 25 illegal spills into the sea, identifying those responsible. In some cases, causing a deterioration of the ecosystem that has resulted in the elimination of native plant and animal populations. In this sense, the most affected populations are located on the coasts of Andalusia, Levante, Baleares, Galicia and the Canary Islands.
The most polluting discharge has been recorded on the Costa del Sol, where the flow of domestic and industrial wastewater, without purification, of a population would reach 34 million cubic meters.
In many regions, spills of plastic waste generated by intensive agriculture have been detected, as well as a consequence of the rejection waters produced by illegal evictors and desalination plants linked to agriculture.
In the Region of Murcia, after the last floods and the detection of the spills that have caused the death by asphyxiation of hundreds of fish, investigation has been opened under the coordination of the Office of the Environment Prosecutor for the clarification of these uncontrolled spills.

Illicit Waste Traffic

Seprona's actions have also focused on actions aimed at preventing and prosecuting illegal traffic in waste, in particular plastic waste. The Asian authorities have prioritized the fight against uncontrolled dumping of imported plastics that their countries suffer, and that has immediate consequences in the rest of the world.
Some managers who speculated on the sale of plastics to Asia do not see the expected amount of output, an option they are choosing is to eliminate them by burning, a very polluting procedure.
In Tenerife several people have been investigated for illegal shipment of hazardous waste to Africa, and in the Valencian Community several companies have been identified that obtained illicit benefits exporting plastics to Asia.
The operation has been developed by the Civil Protection Service of the Civil Guard and has been supported by the DG. Merchant Marine and AEAT (General Directorate of Customs and Special Taxes) and the School of Marine Engineering of the University of Cádiz in the measurements and studies of sulfides and NOx gases emitted by different vessels.

Marine pollution, a relevant player in the climate emergency

Marine pollution poses a serious and growing threat against the environment, particularly against marine and coastal ecosystems. It poses risks to public health and food security, due to the depletion of fish stocks, directly related to the economy of developing countries.
And the latest recorded studies point to the great influence of marine pollution in the growing climatic emergency. The latest UN report warns of the loss of oxygen in the oceans because of the increased emissions that pollute those waters and the atmosphere, even in the depths, lack of oxygen threatens marine biodiversity and constitutes a growing threat to fishing.

The Civil Guard against pollution and climate change

Within the framework of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, COP25, the SEPRONA of the Civil Guard has had a presence not only accompanying the Ministers of Interior and Ecological Transition during its development, but has also taken part in different Events:
  • Round table moderated by the Director General of Environmental Quality and Biodiversity of MITECO, on illegal timber trafficking.
  • The Civil Guard model in the defense of the Environment. Operations in the field of climate change.
  • Round table accompanying the Prosecutor of the Environment and Urban Planning Department in workshops related to Forest Fires, pollution caused by cruise ships and urban air pollution.


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