Aegean eye to monitor oil tankers

Greece will install electronic eyes at points where major shipping routes enter the Aegean, in order to closely monitor tankers for fear of oil spills, the government said yesterday. Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis told a press conference that the Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) system, a form of marine traffic control currently operating in the ports of Piraeus, Patras, Corfu and Igoumenitsa, would be extended to cover the passages between Lemnos and Lesvos, Crete and Karpathos, and between Crete, Kythera and the southern Peloponnese. «This will enable us to keep an eye on all large tankers – mainly from the Dardanelles, the Suez or Gibraltar – that pass through the Aegean,» Anomeritis said. Last year, the coast guard fined 33 ships a total of 989,000 euros for polluting Greek seas. Anomeritis said the coast guard’s seven patrol aircraft would step up flights along the Aegean routes followed by tankers, while sea patrols would be stepped up at night in «special marine ecosystems.»