in: OIL SPILL ALONG THE TURKISH STRAITS SEA AREA; ACCIDENTS, ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS AND PROTECTION, Selma ÜNLÜ,Bedri ALPAR,Bayram ÖZTÜRK, Editor, TÜDAV, İstanbul, pp.2-15, 2018
HISTORY OF ACCIDENTS AND REGULATIONS
This chapter underpins the history of the maritime accidents along the Turkish Straits Sea Area (TSSA), history of regulations, transition regimes, evaluation of the Montreux Convention and its effects. As the TSSA is a unique maritime route for the Black Sea riparian countries, it is particularly vital for the transportation of huge amount of goods. The total number of the cargo vessels and oil tankers passing through the Istanbul and Çanakkale Straits in 2017 was more than 8800 and 9500, respectively. Although the Turkish Straits are among the World’s busiest sea-lanes they are still governed by the Montreux Convention, signed on 20 July 1936. Extremely congested marine traffic (~200 vessels per day with ~25 carrying hazardous cargo) makes the Turkish Straits extremely vulnerable to shipping accidents. The total amount of hazardous cargo passing through the Istanbul and Çanakkale Straits in 2017 was 147 and 167 million tons, respectively. More than 400 large and small accidents have been recorded in the İstanbul Strait for the last 70 years, most of which resulted in loss of lives and severe environmental damage. Approximately 175,000 tons of oil spilled into the TSSA from 1979 to 2003. Most of the maritime accidents along this route caused by rather difficult navigation routes of the straits, congested marine traffic, strong currents, bad weather conditions and poor visibility. Another common reason for the maritime accidents along the Turkish Straits was the unexpected problems with ship’s steering gear mechanism, and human errors resulting from improper human-technology interaction. The number of accidents declined drastically depending on fast technology development, e.g. ship propulsion systems, and especially on the implementation of maritime traffic regulations of the Straits, signed on October 8th, 1998. New Vessel Traffic Services System, which can take immediate physical actions by observing the vessels and planning traffic organization, have increased the safety of the straits and thus achieved a significant decline in sea accidents.
Hasan Bora USLUER