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By the end of the 1970s both of Israel's seas were in trouble. When UNEP's new Regional Seas Program picked the Mediterranean as its first target for international cooperation in 1974, it was fortuitous. From an environmen-tal perspective, it is hard to think of a more deserving candidate. Moreover, politically the Mediterranean had the additional advantage of bridging the concerns of first-world European countries with those of developing na-tions in North Africa, who held equal stakes in an imperiled resource. Israel, of course, was right in the middle.

A small, enclosed body of water, the Mediterranean Sea requires close to one hundred years for its waters to be fully circulated and replen-ished.[138] With 460 million tons of crude oil crossing the Sea each year and 80 percent of the sewage from coastal regions flowing into it with little or no treatment, conditions were appalling.[139] Release of ballast waters posed a chronic problem. (Ballasts are used for washing the cargo tanks of oil tankers and providing additional weight to empty vessels in transit so that they can sit at an optimal depth in the water.) It was not just fish that suf-fered from Mediterranean oil pollution. During the 1960s and 1970s the stains on Israeli beaches from the tarry petroleum residues reached disgusting

levels. After swimming, bathers had to scour the soles of their feet in kerosene to remove the gooey black gobs of petroleum wastes.

When the United Nations convened a conference in Barcelona in 1975, all of the Mediterranean nations sent delegates, with the exception of reclusive Albania. The resulting convention and its five operational proto-cols created a Mediterranean Action Program[140] and one of the first coor-dinated regional environmental regulatory efforts.[141] During a period of unprecedented diplomatic isolation, Israel was delighted that its participa-tion was not only tolerated but welcome. The Barcelona convention proto-cols called on the parties to enact stringent laws banning oil releases and limiting dumping and land-based sewage discharges; the Israeli govern-ment was amenable.[142]

Passing statutes in and of itself was not enough. Like Kanovich's Abatement of Nuisances Law, however, the UN-mandated laws remained a symbol of well-meaning legislation that floundered, without a commit-ment to implementation. As is so often the case, the key to implementa-tion was money. Marinov teamed up with Adir Shapira, who had replaced General Yoffe at the helm of the Nature Reserves Authority, to raise the funds. It made sense to begin with the Gulf of Aqaba at Eilat, where the aquatic ecosystem was especially vulnerable and damage to the coral reef was already evident.

During the 1970s, when the Suez Canal was closed, Iranian crude oil heading for Europe was delivered to Eilat and piped north to Israel's Mediterranean ports.[143] The Eilat-Ashkelon Oil Pipeline Company (or “Katza,” according to the Hebrew acronym) continued to operate even after the fall of the Shah and the loss of the Iranian connection. (Israel is the only country to import oil via the Gulf—the city of Aqaba receives its Iraqi fuel by truck.) The Katza oil jetties are located directly north of the Coral Beach Nature Reserve and loom as a potential menace to the sensi-tive aquatic systems. They receive the 2.5 million tons of oil from the Sinai's Abu Rodeis oil fields that Egypt sells Israel each year under the 1978 Camp David agreements.[144] It probably was not a pure sense of civic duty, but rather some subtle regulatory arm twisting, that motivated Katza to assent to Marinov and Shapira's request to bankroll a marine pro-tection unit to be run by NRA rangers. Work began, but the team lacked full legal authority.

When Israel decided to ratify “Marpol,” an international marine treaty, as well as the Barcelona oil pollution protocol in 1979,[145] it required a major re-vision in the 1936 Oil in Navigable Waters Ordinance.[146] Again, the big ques-tion was money. Funding mechanisms were left out of the original draft of

the amendments. The all-powerful Ministry of Finance was always stingy when it came to environmental matters. It was also zealous about controlling tax revenues, so the very idea of a specially designated fund for marine pro-tection would have been laughed out of their dim corridors. But to the delight of environmentalists, when a new oil pollution prevention law passed in 1980, it contained an independent Marine Pollution Prevention Fund, paid for by shipping fees and fines.[147] Seemingly miraculously the provision had slipped past the watchful eye of the government economists. Actually this de-velopment was the result of well-timed legislative manipulations.[148]

When Yuval Cohen returned to Israel after completing his doctorate in marine biology abroad, he came to Marinov to consult with him about em-ployment opportunities. Marinov recognized Cohen's energy and mana-gerial potential and suggested that he oversee the EPS's marine protection efforts. Dissatisfied with the latitude the Nature Reserves Authority gave its rangers, in July 1983 Cohen brought the operation “in house” and opened a Marine Pollution Prevention Department.[149] Suddenly the EPS had a clear regulatory mandate and the personnel to carry it out.

The results were dramatic. Under the 1983 regulations, the Port Authority collected surcharges from all ships calling at Israeli ports and oil terminals and sent them to the Marine Pollution Prevention Fund.[150] In its first year the fees generated $420,000 for the Fund, an astronomical sum by the very modest standards of the EPS.[151] Revenues steadily grew as the Fund doubled in size.[152] The money made it possible to put Jerusalem at-torney Yehudah Raveh on retainer to represent the EPS in actions against marine polluters. Raveh already provided prosecution services for the Nature Reserve Authority, empowered by a special authorization from the Attorney General. Private firms presumably were more responsive to gov-ernment clients than the overworked lawyers in the State Attorney's office.

By 1987 the Fund was generating $650,000 a year. The money paid for oil spill control equipment, jeeps, and eventually a small patrol boat. The fund also bankrolled the salaries of six inspectors. It was money well spent.[153] By 1987 the team conducted six hundred annual inspections of vessels, most of which showed compliance with international limitations on discharge of oil sources.[154] Ship captains grew accustomed to the plucky Israeli inspectors poking about and reviewing “oil records” to see whether or not ballast or oily bilge waters had been released before the ships reached the port's reception facilities (by 1988, Israel retrieved 25,000 tons of oil annually from “deballasting” facilities at its three ports).[155] Violations were categorized as strict liability. It did not matter whether captains were aware of oil leaks; if they were caught releasing oil, they

were guilty. The law also did not distinguish between large and small dis-charges. Yacht captains were prosecuted for tossing French-fry oil over-board in the same way that an oil tanker captain would be for unleashing an ecological catastrophe.[156] The enforcement system was self-supporting. According to the law, fines were fed back into the Marine Pollution Prevention Fund.

Ultimately it is not the number of inspections that serves as the bottom line for assessing ecological progress but the actual quality of the marine environment. At least one parameter showed stunning success. The Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute monitored the concen-trations of tar on Israel's Mediterranean beaches between 1975 and 1987. They found that levels plummeted, from 3.6 kilograms per front meter to 20 grams—nearly a two-hundredfold drop![157] The decrease was partially due to the reduced oil transport to Europe following the revolution in Iran.[158] No less important, though, was the international environmental regime and Israel's own uncompromising enforcement posture. During a period when pollution parameters all showed dramatic increases, the tar level was an important anomaly. Sound environmental policies made a difference.

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