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Marine Pollution

Marine pollution can be of various forms from oil pollution to wood or containers lost from a ship.

A marine pollution response off shore is led by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency using the Marine Pollution Contingency Plan.

When the pollution reaches the shore it becomes the Local Authorities responsibility  and the Suffolk Resilience Forum Marine Pollution plan covers how the multi-agency partners will work together to deal with an incident.


Flotsam and Jetsam (Goods coming ashore as a result of an incident)

This remains the property of the cargo’s owner and not the property of the finder or salvor.  Salvors or finders must declare recovered wreck material to the Receiver, by submitting a completed MCA Report of Wreck and Salvage within 28 days of the recovery.  Salvors or finders are not entitled to keep what they have recovered, but may be eligible for a salvage award.

Once a salvage contractor is appointed, additional voluntary ‘plunder’ after this point would not be of benefit to the owner and is therefore not a legitimate act of salvage.  At this point the Receiver of Wreck can transfer statutory powers to the Police to confiscate or enforce the immediate handover of items that have been retrieved.

During a clean up operation, public access to the shoreline can be restricted by the landowner, supported by Public Control Orders issued by the Police for legal, health and safety, environmental, or public order issues.  The Local Authority may also temporarily close public footpaths and roads to restrict access.

What to do if you find an oiled bird

Members of the public should not try to rescue wildlife affected by oil or other pollutants, due to the many health and safety issues associated with hazardous or noxious substances, the environment or contact with wildlife. 

The RSPB offers advice on what to do if you find an oiled bird(s).