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Atlantic Review of Economics 

            Revista Atlántica de Economía

Colegio de Economistas da Coruña
 INICIO > EAWP: Vols. 1 - 9 > EAWP: Volumen 2 [2003]Estadísticas/Statistics | Descargas/Downloads: 8217  | IMPRIMIR / PRINT
Volumen 2 Número 13: The prestige Catastrophe: Political decisions, scientific counsel, missing markets and the need for an international maritime protocol.

Eduardo L. Giménez
Universidade de Vigo
 

Reference: Received 15th September 2003; Published 14th October 2003.
ISSN 1579-1475

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Abstract

The Prestige tankship with 77.000 Tons of fuel suffered an accident on November 13th, 2002 at 45 miles from Galician coast under a storm. Although the ship arrived as close as 5 miles from Galiza, Spanish government refused to admit it at any harbor, but to send off-shore northwest direction. This was the first in a number of decisions that provoked the widest oil pollution ever from Exxon Valdez accident. In this paper it is shown that the political decisions first taken by Spanish government may be understood in the light of economic theory: first due to missing markets for pollution accidents both domestic and international, i.e. the non existence of any international maritime protocol; and second, because of Spanish government incompetence by neglecting the counsel of scientific institutions to assess the possible risks in the event of a catastrophe, which made the authorities to misperceive the risks involved on the decisions taken, and then hid to population information about all possible dangers. It is argued that the latter magnified the catastrophe -both ecological and social-, and the former became the government objective closer to the individual coastal population interests than to the social planner, so that the observed outcome was (obviously) the well-known free-rider theoretical inefficient result found in the economic theory with externalities, i.e., the Spanish, and later the French, Atlantic coast were fully polluted. This paper has two main goals. First, at the theoretical level, to show the need to introduce the political decision analysis into the economic theory. Second, as a policy recommendation, it is an appeal for the need of an international maritime protocol, which includes scientific assessment for this kind of situations, places of refuge, and a suitable com pensation scheme from those who are benefited, so that this kind of political decisions and this type of disasters will be repeated Never More (Nunca Mais).

Resumen

El petrolero Prestige, con 77.000 toneladas de fuel sufrió un accidente el 13 de noviembre de 2002, a 45 millas de la costa gallega a causa de un temporal. Aunque el buque se aproximó a una distancia de tan sólo 5 millas de Galicia, el gobierno español no sólo rechazó su admisión en puerto sino que lo alejó en dirección noroeste. Esta fue la primera de una serie de decisiones que provocaron la contaminación petrolera más grande después del accidente del Exxon Valdez. En este artículo se muestra como las decisiones políticas tomadas por el gobierno español pueden ser entendidas desde el ámbito de la teoría económica: en primer lugar, debido a la falta de mercados en caso de accidentes de contaminación a nivel nacional e internacional, es decir, la inexistencia de un protocolo marítimo internacional; y en segundo lugar, debido a la incompetencia del gobierno español que omitió el consejo de las instituciones científicas sobre la evaluación de los posibles riesgos en caso de catástrofe, lo que llevó a las autoridades a minimizar los riesgos que conllevaban las decisiones tomadas, y posteriormente, a ocultar información sobre los posibles peligros a la población. Se cree que esto último magnificó la catástrofe, tanto ecológica como social, y que lo primero constituyó un objetivo del gobierno más próximo a los intereses individuales de la población costera que a la planificación social, de modo que el resultado fue (obviamente) las conocidas consecuencias teóricas ineficaces free-rider observadas en teoría económica con la aparición de externalidades, es decir, que la costa atlántica española, y más tarde la francesa resultó totalmente contaminada. Este artículo contempla dos objetivos. El primero, en un nivel teórico, sería mostrar la necesidad de introducir el análisis de decisión política en teoría económica. El segundo objetivo, a modo de política de recomendación, sería la necesidad de un protocolo marítimo internacional, que incluya asesoramiento científico para esta clase de situaciones, áreas de refugio, y un esquema de compensación adecuado por parte de los beneficiados, con el fin de que este tipo de decisiones políticas y este tipo de desastres no se repitan Nunca Máis.


1.-INTRODUCCIÓN

   November 13th, 2002, the Prestige, a 26 years old single-hull tankship with 77.000 Tons of heavy fuel oil, suffers an accident under a violent storm at 45 miles from Galiza, in the Spanish Atlantic coast. Although the vessel arrived as close as 5 miles from Galician coast, the Spanish government refused to admit it at any harbor, but to send it off-shore northwest direction. This was the first crucial decision that later provoked on November, 19th the sunk of the Prestige at 150 miles off the coast, and the biggest pollution ever from Exxon-Valdez accident for its width (all the northern Spanish Atlantic coast, as well as some Portuguese and French ones were affected), natural pristine ecosystems hurt, and all fishing and seafood collected activities forbidden for months along the 1.390 km. Galician coast.

   Despite the disgraceful of the catastrophe, interesting economic questions arise, many of them interdisciplinary with engineering, biology, law and political science. First, how amounts the monetary valuation of the damages of provoked by the Prestige oil spill? Second, can economic theory help for understanding why this kind of old single-hull tankships are still working and allowed to transport fuel burden, and then with high probability of accidents?; and if so, what type of incentives does economic theory propose to be included in the regulatory set-up in order to reduce the risks of accidents in the future? Third, can economic theory help to identify the source of the pollution externality and, in consequence, who had to pay the cleaning pollution expenses and compensation of losses? This is not a trivial question, because if the Spanish government decisions magnified the catastrophe, these may have relevant consequences on responsibility. So, a final question springs: can economic theory help us to understand why the Spanish government took the decision of not admitting the Prestige in any Galician harbor? This paper offers an answer of this question, which enters into the Political Science grounds, as well as the Penal Law.

   We present a very simple model. There exist a number of harbors, Galician and the others (both Spanish and European). We first suppose that a tankship with fuel burden suffered an accident in front of Galician coast. A decision must be taken: whether to reach the spill-out oil vessel at some Galician harbor, or to move off-shore inside the Atlantic Ocean. This decision will depend crucially on two key issues: first, who has the property rights to decide if the puncture vessel is allowed or not to enter at some harbor and which are the existing institutions, e.g. maritime protocols; and second, which are the decision-taker perceived risks in the case of sending the vessel into the Atlantic ocean, i.e., the politician a priori probabilities of risk.

   On what respects the property rights to decide if the vessel is allowed or not to enter at some harbor, we will study three possible cases: first, the myopic decentralized equilibrium, where each individual Galician harbor has this right on its own harbor, and no protocol exists; next, we consider the Pareto-eficient allocations from the social planner problem, which cares about all harbors (Galician, Spanish and European); and, finally, we study the political equilibrium, where the maritime decisions within Spanish coast are taken at the corresponding office in the Spanish government, which only cares about Galician and Spanish harbors. The decentralized political equilibria are studied under three possible scenarios: first, there exists only a pollution compensating scheme up to 180 million euros by the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF);1 next, there exists complete markets of the pollution bad between harbors but politicians has no scientific assessment; and finally, there exists both complete markets of the pollution bad between harbors, and politicians require scientific assessment to take the decision.

   In the case the spill-out oil vessel is allowed to dock at some harbor, the population of any harbor will suffer two kind of costs. First, an objective cost: a reduction on the production at the harbor, and then on income, which depends on the volume of productive activities developed at the polluted harbor (e.g., reduction of fisheries, a decrease in tourism visits). We will assume that this objective cost for any harbor is higher in the case that the vessel is docked at its own harbor than otherwise. Second, there is an environmental subjective cost due to the direct degradation observed at their own harbor as well as the degradation recorded in all other harbors, which depends on the information received about (mainly through mass media). We will assume that the environmental cost will be higher if the vessel enters in its own harbor than otherwise.

   In the case the vessel does not enter to any harbor this problem will turn to be stochastic. With certain probability nothing happens; the tankship will be repair off-shore, besides low environmental pollution exists. However, with positive probability, there will be an economic and environmental catastrophe, which with some known probability will only affect Galician coast and with the remaining probability will affect other Spanish and European coasts. We will assume that there exists a true probability for the economic and environmental catastrophe, known by certain by the social planner although it may not be easily known at the decentralized equilibria by the decision-makers. These authorities have, initially, an a priori probabilities based on intuition, past experiences, etc., and we will suppose that an approximation to the true probability cannot be known unless a scientific and technical report is undertaken.

   The scientific literature dealing with the consequences of the Prestige accident tried to shed light on some of the questions arisen above from different fields of knowledge. The economic literature on the Prestige catastrophe has been mainly focus onto the economic effects. This literature has been divided into two strands. On the one hand, several studies show how the economic sectors and activities are affected by the accident;2 on the other, some preliminary approximation to a quantification of the negative impact on coastal Galician economy have been presented, which includes present and future losses in economic activities, and also consider use and existence values, as well as the destruction, of natural environment.3

   Other issues have attracted the interest of the economic literature. On what respects the reasons why old single-hull tankships are still sailing and allowed to transport fuel burden with low security requirements, some authors have pointed out that the present maritime transportation regulatory set-up lacks on a suitable international legal security, so that the responsibility and the financial compensation mechanisms in the case of maritime oil spills are not fully defined: this makes "globalization and neoliberalism" the last responsibles of the Prestige accident.4 Within this view, González Laxe et al (2003c, sec.4) present a transaction cost model where the polluted carrier company is fully responsible of the damage, and show how several alternative compensation mechanism would induce maritime carrier companies to invest in security. They conclude that the regulation of the maritime transportation of polluted goods plus the implementation of suitable financial compensation mechanism better offset the social costs.

   Additionally, it is interesting to wonder why, despite past recent experiences, this regulation is not at work in the European Union, but it is in the US.5 González Laxe et al. (2003a,b) study the maritime security, the regulatory set-up in the European Union, and the problems for implementing new proposals.6 Some authors have made several suggestions for public intervention in order to improve the maritime transportation security,7 most of them included in González Laxe et al. (2003c)´s proposals for a EU regulatory change,8 and compare it with the present US regulation. It remains, however, an open question on the effects of this new regulation on national economies (e.g., the effect of the probably rise in oil price on general prices, growth, etc.)

   A third economic issue, the responsibility of the Prestige catastrophe and how had to pay the expenses of the damage, falls close to International Penal Law.9 There is a long tradition from Coase (1956) to study the ineficiency allocations with externalities and the assignment of property rights, and led some authors (e.g., Labandeira et al, 2003) to support the need of public intervention due to a market failure for catastrophe and risk management associated with the hydrocarbon maritime transportation.10 This means the identification of the source of the pollution externality and the property rights that were directly or indirectly affected, as well as to determine who and how had to pay the cleaning pollution expenses and compensation of the present and future losses. However, the Prestige affair shows up that this is not a trivial question. The economic literature usually assigns property rights in a way that the conclusion \the polluter will have to pay" is achieved. However, this literature treats the spill oil catastrophe as the case that a tanker in the middle of the Atlantic suffers an accident, then sinks, and finally pollutes the sea and the coasts (see, e.g., González Laxe et al, 2003 a,b,c, Labandeira et al, 2003, and the literature related). However, it was precisely the public intervention of a democratic elected government what magnified the catastrophe, and its decision of not allowing to dock the Prestige in any Galician harbor, and send the punctured oil tank off-shore northwest direction may have relevant consequences on identified responsibilities. That is, the claiming for government intervention due to market failure of the first welfare theorem, in order to introduce measures and take actions to increase maritime transportation security for pollution accident reduction, usually does not take into account the eficiency, lobby pressures, qualification and experiences of the oficials in charge of the different governmental departments who take political decisions. Although it seems that this issue goes beyond economic analysis into the Political Science, this paper will show that economic theory can understand this political decision in the Prestige affair.

   The scientific literature has been bitterly critique with the decision taken by Spanish authorities of not admitting the Prestige in any Galician harbor, from the Marine Biology,11 the Political Science,12 as well as some technical reports,13 despite the Spanish government backed all the steps taken as the right ones,14 and both the Ministry of Transportation and the Vice-president insisted that the decisions taken were technical and not political.15 In what respects economic literature, however, none have been attempted to make use economic theory to understand it, so this paper comes to fill this gap. Economics study decisions under conditions of scarcity, so this is a problem economist may deal with, and we will try to answer if economic theory helps us to shed light to understand the decisions of sending the Prestige tankship off-shore instead of docking in a Galician harbor.

   Those critiques of the scientific literature on this decision focus on three issues: first, the politician dismiss of academic and technical counseling about the situation of the vessel and the possible alternatives, which resulted into the consequently incorrect perception of the situation and risks; second, not to allow the tankship to reach some harbor and sent it into a adverse Atlantic ocean without any measure that alleviate additional problems magnified the catastrophe; third, the decisions taken did not even follow the International Maritime Organization (IMO) protocols in the case of maritime accidents, that the Spanish government subscribed.

   In what respects these critiques a comment is in order. It is not true that the Spanish Merchant Maritime Office which take the decisions, belonged to the Minister of Transportation, did not have any protocol to implement in this case.16 The Head of the Merchant Maritime office exactly followed the same protocol implemented on 31 December, 2000 when the Castor, a vessel with 31,068 Tm of inflammable burden suffered an accident in front of Almeria, at the Spanish Mediterranean coast. A permission to dock was asked, but Spanish authorities required the tankship to move off Spanish coast.17 However, the calm Mediterranean waters were not the same as the stormy waters of the Atlantic Sea. Notice that this way of procedure firts well into a typified political irrationality know as the "logic of indecision" in Political Science.18 This paper shows that this apparently irrationality in political can be understood in the light of economic theory.

   In the present paper is to show that the political decision to send the Prestige tankship off-shore taken by Spanish government may be understood in the light of economic theory: First due to missing markets for pollution accidents both domestic and international, i.e., the non existence of a standard international maritime protocol. We show that the first welfare theorem does not hold because the existence of an externality, although it is not a sufficient condition. Second, because of Spanish government incompetence by neglecting the counsel of scientific institutions to assess the risks in the event of catastrophe, it misperceived the risks of the decisions taken and then hid information to the population about all possible dangers involved. It is argued that the latter magnified the catastrophe both ecological and social, and the former became the government objective closer to each of the individual coastal population interests than to efficiency.

   To understand this political decisions, we face different problems depending crucially on who has the property rights to admit a spill oil tanker into a harbor, and which are the perceived risks involved in the decision of not allowing the tanker to dock the harbor with respect to the true probability of the risk of catastrophe. First, the harbor political authority has this right, and we suppose that the probabilities of risk if no harbor admits the tankship is considered by this local authority very low. We find the myopic decentralized equilibrium, where all Galician harbor political authorities optimally do not allow the vessel to dock its harbor, and place the vessel off-shore. There exists a probability, however, that a catastrophe happens so that all Galician harbors are polluted, reproducing the well-known free-rider outcome.

   Next, we find the Pareto efficient allocation with the Social Planner problem, where we assume that the planner knows by certain the true probability of the risks involved. There exists a probability threshold where the costs of the decision of allowing and not allowing offset. If the true probability is higher than this bound the efficient allocation will be allow the vessel to enter at some harbor, and make a resource compensation from the other harbors to the polluted one. Otherwise, if the probability of risk is low, the efficient allocation is send the vessel off-shore and, if the catastrophe contingent happens, make a resource transfers from the non-affected harbors to the polluted ones.

   Finally, we find the political equilibrium, where the corresponding Spanish office takes the decision to allow the ship to enter or not at a harbor. We study three scenarios. First, the government has an a priori on the probability of risk, and there is no compensation scheme between harbors. This is the present case, and we can find that if the politicians misperceived the probability of risk, which seemed to be too low with respect to the true probability in the Prestige affair, the political equilibrium was to send the vessel off-shore,and with probability to pollute all the Atlantic coast. That is, the observed outcome was the well-known free-rider theoretical ineficient result found in the economic theory with externalities, i.e., the Spanish, and later the French, Atlantic coast were fully polluted The second scenario considers the case that complete markets of pollution exists between harbors. However, although economic theory supports that eficient allocation would then achieved, given the low politician a priori probability the previous ineficient result will be reproduced again. Finally, we consider a third scenario where there exists both complete markets of pollution exists between harbors, and scientific and technical assessment to the government decisions. Then, eficiency can be restored.

   The contributions of this paper are twofold. First, at the theoretical level, to show theneed to introduce the political decision analysis into the economic theory. Second, analogous to other authors and institutions,19 as a policy recommendation, it is an appeal for the needof an international maritime protocol, which includes scientific assessment for this kind of situations, places of refuge, and a suitable compensation scheme in this kind of catastrophes from those who are benefited, all as a way to improve social welfare, so that this kind of political decisions and this type of disasters will be repeated Never More (Nunca Máis). This work develops through the following sections. In Section 2 we present briefly the events. In Section 3 we first present the model, next we find the myopic decentralized equilibrium, then the optimal Pareto allocations, and finally the political equilibrium under three scenarios: with incomplete markets of pollution, with complete markets of pollution, and with complete markets of pollution and scientific assessment to the government decision. Finally, Section 4 summarizes conclusions and indicates further research.


2.-THE EVENTS


   During the afternoon of Wednesday, 13 November 2002,20 the tanker Prestige, carrying a cargo of some 77,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, en route from Ventspils in Latvia to Singapore, suffered hull damage in heavy seas some 30 miles off Cape Finisterre, northern Spain. The initial problem started with a failure of the ships´s side plating in one of the starboard ballast tanks, which was empty at the time. The tank rapidly filled with seawater causing the ship to list to about 25 degrees. The main engine stopped at about this time. The master took immediate action to reduce the list, but it was several hours before the list was reduced to 5 degrees. The large list combined with heavy rolling caused small amounts of cargo oil tobe forced through screw down plates in the deck. There was no damage to any of the cargo tanks at this stage. This stage continued for several hours after the initial incident. However,the ship lay in such a position relative to the weather that the heavy waves continued pound the damaged area. Eventually, a further piece of side plating was torn away and as it brokeloose it appears to have damaged the plating of one of the cargo tanks, which began to spill its cargo, causing serious pollution.

   The precise cause of the damage, which rapidly resulted in the Prestige developing a severe list, is not known but she drifted to within five miles of the coast before salvagevessels were able to attach lines. She was reportedly denied access to a sheltered, safe haven decision was taken by the shore authorities to order the ship out to sea, without making any provision to prevent any further damage occurring, the ship was likely to sink eventually unless the weather abated very quickly.

   She towed out into the Atlantic Ocean to face more storms and high waves and survived this onslaught of nature for six days, with the salvors attempting to minimise the stresses on the vessel by their direction of tow. Evidence of the residual strength of the ship after the initial damage is illustrated by its remaining intact for a further six days in very severe weather conditions. However, on 19 November the weakened ship finally broke in two, with both parts sinking to the sea bed, some 170 miles off the Spanish coast and in water about 3,500 metres deep. (See satellite picture 1 for the tanship path.)

   Figure 1: Satellite Picture on 17 November 2002, ESA


   Oil started to come ashore in Spain on 17 November. The heaviest contamination was between A Corunna and Toriñan Cape, although varying degrees of contamination eventually extended from the border of Spain and Portugal to Bordeaux in France. Although oil entered Portuguese waters, none came ashore there.

   The contaminated coasts of Spain and France are popular holiday destinations but the sandy beaches should be cleaned well before the start of the tourist season. Environmental concerns in Spain were mainly focused on sites of international importance for birds. Local groups assisted by international animal welfare organizations initiated a major programme for recovering and rehabilitating oiled birds, most of which were guillemots. The Galician region of Spain supports a rich and diverse fishing and aquaculture industry. Mussels, oysters, turbot and several other species are cultivated along the coast, while various natural stocks of fish and shellfish are harvested by traditional methods. The local regulatory authority imposed a ban on fishing and shellfish harvesting over an extensive area of Spanish coastal waters, although parts of the ban were lifted in February 2003. In France the oyster fishery in the region of Arcachon was subject to a short ban on harvesting while there was floating oil in the area.


3 .-THE MODEL


   Think on H Atlantic harbors, HG along the Galician Atlantic coast, and the remaining along the rest of Spanish northern Atlantic coast, and the other European coastal Atlantic countries (Portugal, France, Great Britain, Ireland, etc.). Then, let us suppose that a tankship with 77.000 Tons of heavy fuel oil suffered an accident at 45 miles from Galician coast under a violent storm. A decision must be taken: whether reach the oil leaking vessel at some Galician harbor h 2 HG, or to move off-shore inside the Atlantic Ocean. Economist study decisions, so this is a problem economist may deal with. The decision depends crucially on who has the right to decide if the vessel is allowed or not to enter to some harbor. We will present three equilibria depending on who has this right, and given some existing institutions and protocols. First, whenever each harbor political authorities has this right on its own harbor, we consider the decentralizedindividual harbor equilibrium. Next, we consider the Pareto-efficient allocations form the social planner problem, so we could think on a supranational o±ce that faces with this problem.21 Finally we study the political problem, where the maritime decisions within Spanish coast are taken at the corresponding office in the government.22

   3.1 The scenarios

   Denote Ih the decision to allow or not the punctured vessel to enter to harbor h, which consequently is polluted. If the decision is to let it enter, we will denote by Ih = 1, and Ih = 0 otherwise. Observe that, given that there are HG harbors, the available decisions are represented by the HG-dimensional canonical base, , plus the zero HG-dimensional vector, , so that the set of feasible decisions is given by where is one of the feasible decisions, with Ij = 1 and Ik = 0 if

   The catastrophe after allowing the leaking tankship enter the harbor j will have two kind of costs for any harbor it may affect directly its productive activities (both direct -decreasing in fisheries, etc.- and indirect -reduction in tourism, etc.), and it may exist a subjective psychological pain vh(ej) for the population of the harbor h when been letting to know about the destruction of close natural environment.

   The former means that, if the puncture tankship is allowed to enter at some harbor j, i.e. the harbor h will suffer the cost of decreasing its activity (as a negative productivity shock), that we will denote by as the fraction of productive activities affected at harbor h for some decision ej . For example, if the vessel is allowed to dock harbor j = 1, the harbor h productive activity will decrease For simplicity, we will assume that the productivity cost for harbor h of deciding not to allow the vessel arrive to its harbor is the same for any decision taken by the other harbors, i.e. for any Ij and 23 It is reasonable to assume that for each harbor h.

   The latter means that the population who lives at harbor h mainly care about the the degradation of the natural environment where they live, as well as of all other harbors. This subjective cost on pristine environment is represented by a continuous increasing function for each and will depend on the harbor h citizens information received. It is also reasonable to think that a harbor is more harmful if the vessel enters its bay, so

   There are two possible outcomes. First, if the vessel is allowed to dock at some harbor j, this harbor will suffer strong productive and environmental costs, and the other harbors will suffer both productive and environmental costs, although lower than if the vessel entered its harbor. Second, if the vessel does not enter to any harbor, this problem turns out to be stochastic. Nothing happens with probability the tankship will be repair off-shore and there exists low environmental pollution, i.e., for all However, with probability there could be an economic and environmental catastrophe, which with probability will only affect the Galician coast, and with probability will affect also the other Spanish and European coasts. We will make the following assumptions on both probabilities: first, it seems reasonable to assume that in the case of a catastrophe off-shore, the probability that it only affects Galician coast or all the countries coast could be known approximately, so that is given.

   Second, the evaluation of the risks to send the leaking tankship off-shore may differ among decision- makers, because of the different consideration of the situation, their experience, information available, etc. However, it is important to realize that a close estimation of the probability depends on technical assessment. The costs involved in each case will be denoted by and respectively, for all Finally, it is reasonable to assume that theproductivity shock at any Galician harbors in the case that the oil reach some harbor will be close to the case that the vessel would be allowed to enter this harbor, and much higher in the case that the leaking vessel enters another harbor, and finally higher in the case no catastrophe happens; that is, for any Galician harbor


   3.2 Myopic decentralized equilibrium
  

   The harbor h problem. Let us suppose that each harbor political authority has the property rights to allow a vessel to enter its harbor. This allows us to simplify the notation by substituting the outcome vector ej by the individual harbor decision variable Ih. In addition, we will assume that each harbor political authority has insufficient information about the risks involve in the case that no harbor admits the vessel to dock its harbor, and then assigns this probability the value The harbor political authority faces the decision, Ih, whether to permit the leaking tankship to get inside its harbor, Ih = 1, or not, Ih = 0, given the other harbors decision,so that to minimize

   This means that harbor h problem is


given The optimal decision is to not allow the tankship to dock into its own harbor, i.e., for any harbor political authority . The remaining non-Galician harbors make no choice. If the vessel is allowed in some Galician harbor, they will suffer no productive cost, i.e., for all If none admits it, the cost will be the same for all

   The myopic decentralized equilibrium. Let be each harbor output the productivity cost and the subjective environmental cost function and the known the probability that the pollution arrives to all harbor after a catastrophe happens off-shore . Let all harbor h probability evaluation of risk Then is an equilibrium such that Ih = 0 is a solution for each harbor problem .

   This equilibrium means that no Galician harbor allows for the vessel to get into its harbor. In consequence, the tankship is sent off-shore and nothing happens or, with some true probability , there exists a catastrophe. To sum up, due to no Galician harbor can appropriate from the other harbor benefits (both the other Galician and the foreign harbors), so none admits the vessel in its harbor, harming all the H harbors with some probability. This inefficiency due to incomplete markets on the pollution bad is the standard free-rider outcome in the literature of externalities.

  3.3 The Pareto efficient allocation

   The Social Planner problem. Let us study the Pareto efficient decision in the Social Planner problem after the catastrophe, who faces the decision to allow the punctured tankship get inside at some of the HG harbors or not; that is, it has to choose a harbor j to introduce the vessel Ij = 1 and Ik = 0 with or alternatively to send the vessel off-shore, Ih = 0 for .

   If the Social Planner decides to allow the vessel to arrive to a particular harbor, it will be sacrificed in the benefit of the others. Consequently the Planner will transfer some resources from the other harbors to the affected harbor so that all harbors mitigate the impact at that harbor. In the case the decision consists on not to allow the vessel to dock at any Galician harbor, the Social Planner knows the true probability that nothing will happens, as well as the true probabilities that there is an economic and environmental catastrophe that will only affect all Galician harbors HG or other Spanish and European country coasts, respectively.

   Let be the Social Planner set of weights on each of the H Galician and other Spanish and European harbors, and let g be a continuous increasing function the Social Planner assign to the cost of each harbor.24 The Social Planner problem consists on a suitable transfer of the productive costs, denoted by ¹h, after deciding whether to allow the tankship to dock at some of the HG ports, Ih = 1 for one or to send the vessel off-shore, i.e., Ih = 0 for all HG, that minimize:



subject to the resource cost constraint and is the discounted factor; and, is given. Consequently, the summation of the net compensations among harbors will be zero in any contingency, so that may be negative or positive, i.e., , respectively.

   The Pareto efficient allocations. A solution of this problem, which depends on the Planner weights and the probabilities, are an allocation of productive resource costs and a spatial allocation of the vessel from the decision taken, i.e., Given these weights and probabilities, this allocation is Pareto efficient due to there exists no other allocation of productive resource costs and other spatial allocation of the tankship that some harbor is better offand no other harbor is worse off.

   Proposition 1 Let be the coastal harbor output set and the subjective environment valuation function Suppose that the probability that the pollution arrives to all harbor after a catastrophe happens off-shore is known. Then for sufficiently high negative productivity shocks there exists a threshold of the probability of catastrophe off-shore, such that:

   i) If the true probability of catastrophe off-shore is lower than this threshold then the efficient allocation consists on sending the leaking vessel off-shore, i.e.,

   ii) If the true probability of catastrophe off-shore is higher than the threshold, i.e., then there will be a Galician harbor for which the leaking tankship is introduced, and that received a compensation transfer from the other harbors, i.e.,That is, the efficient allocation is

   Observe that the transfers made in case ii) for are lower bounded by the opportunity cost to not allowing the vessel enter the harbor j, that is, for each harbor . Notice as well that this is a discrete choice problem, so that given Planner weights and probabilities, for each decision there will be a correspondence of Pareto efficient allocations instead of unique ones given the planner weights.

   Proof: The proof is simple. First, observe that if the tankship is allow to enter some harbor, only this harbor will suffer productive cost and all harbors suffer a subjective environmental cost because of the pollution of that harbor. Both values are independent of the probability . Second, in the case that it is not allowed to enter, e0, with some probability all Galician harbors will suffer a productive cost and all harbors suffer a subjective environmental cost because of the pollution of at least all HG harbors. The summation of these costs, higher than in the first case where only one harbor suffers the negative productivity shock, are increasing in . Then the higher the probability of the leaking tankship sinks off-shore and create an environmental catastrophe, the cost of not allow to enter some Galician harbor is higher and higher.25 Next, the planner should look for a harbor that minimize the aggregate harbor costs.

   The ine±ciency of the myopic descentralized equilibrium. Next, we show that, under what circumstances the myopic equilibrium allocation found in this section is ine±cient. We present the following corollary.

   Corollary 1 Under the conditions of Proposition 1, if the the true probability of catastrophe off-shore is higher than the threshold, i.e., and consequently higher than the myopic harbor h probability evaluation then the leaking vessel will be send off-shore and the myopic decentralized equilibrium is inefficient. In the case that true probabilities make that the social Pareto efficient solution is to dock the spilling-oil vessel at some harbor and to compensate this harbor by all the other harbors, the decentralized equilibrium will be inefficient because there exist missing financial markets to appropriate from the benefits of the others.

   3.4 The political equilibrium.

   Let us suppose now that the decisions within the Spanish maritime coast are taken by the the Ministry of Transportation, who may delegate responsabilities to the Merchant Maritime Office.26 After the accident of the tankship, the Ministry and the Head of the Merchant Maritime Office, jointly with collaborators gathered at a Crisis Coordination Commission,27 faces the decision to let the leaking tankship to enter at some of the HG harbors or not.

   We assume that the Commission for Crises Coordination has its own a priori on the stochastic risks involved at each decision. In the case that the puncture vessel is not allow to enter any Galician harbor, the Commission for Crises Coordination will consider that with certain probability nothing will happen, the tankship will be repaired off-shore and there exists low environmental pollution. However, with probability the Spanish Commission for Crises Coordination will consider that there could be an economic and environmental catastrophe, which with known probability will only affect the Galician coast, and with probability will affect other Spanish and European country coasts.

   Let the weight the Spanish government assign to each of the H harbors. It is reasonable to think that, given that democratic governments care mainly their national voters, foreign harbors weighted few or none for the Spanish government,28 i.e, for

   The political problem. The Commission for Crises Coordination has to make two sucessive decisions: first, whether to allow the tankship to dock at some of the HG ports or to send the vessel off-shore. Second, in the case that there exists a financial scheme of compensation if the tankship is allowed to dock some harbor, or the catastrophe finally happens and the pollution finally reaches Spanish coasts, the cabinet of crisis will distribute the financial resources among the affected. The Commission for Crises Coordination cost function for each of the menu options is the following:



where is the discounted factor, and are the set of financial compensation transfers, positive or negative, that enhance or drain resources from each harbor.

   The solution of the political problem depends on the monetary constraint established by the existing financial compensation scheme. Next, we will study three possible equilibria, depending on the existence of domestic financial markets or not, and if the government requires scientific and technical assessment. The first equilibrium may well constitute the present situation that will result in an inefficient allocation. The second points out that, despite the existence of complete markets, an efficient allocation are not necessarily found. Finally, it is proposed an equilibrium with a financial scheme proposal and scientific and technical assessment for governmental decisions to restore efficiency.

   3.4.1 The politician problem without domestic financial markets

   We will first suppose that in the case of a vessel is allow to enter some harbor h, the Spanish government has no financial scheme where this harbor is compensated by those harbors, i.e., This case seems to fit better with real past events, where all the catastrophes in the Galician coasts (Polycomander, 1970; Erkowit, 1970; Urquiola, 1976; Andros Patria, 1978; Cason, 1987; Aegean Sea, 1992, ...) never were compensated by the other harbors. The only compensation would be an exogenous financial fund given by the ITOPF in the case that the pollution reaches the coast, although the harbor affected must wait a number of T years to be paid.29 In this case, the political problem is to minimize the HG + 1 cost functions subject to the following financial restrictions



   The political equilibrium without financial markets. Let be each harbor output the productivity cost and the subjective environmental cost function for each and the known the probability that the pollution arrives to all harbor after a catastrophe happens off-shore . Let the Commission for Crises Coordination probability evaluation of risk . Then is an equilibrium such that, given the stochastic a priori , it is a solution for the political problem.

   The inefficiency of the political equilibrium. The equilibrium allocation just described depends crucially on the Commission for Crises Coordination probability evaluation of the risks involved sending the vessel off-shore, . Given that, in fact, this probability was not necessarily supported by any academic study but by the politician intuition, experience or interests, by the desire to gain time in the case of lacking the suitable measures to confront the pollution at the coast, etc.,30 the stochastic political a priori could be overvalued or undervaluated. Both the academic work as well as some maritime organization reports, all suggest that the risks of the decision taken where very high, and alternatively supported to accept the vessel into a harbor.31 In our terminology, these works support that the value given by the cabinet of crises to the catastrophe contingent off-shore were greatly undervaluated, i.e., . Other literature32 suggests that the estimation process of this probability relied more on previous experiences in the Mediterranean calm sea of the Head of the Merchant Maritime Office, rather than in any scientific assessment.33 Another evidence is that the hypothesis of the possible sunk of the punctured vessel gets strongly confidence for the Commission for Crises Coordination, with the blind hope that nothing will happen despite its no scientific support.34

   The next proposition helps to understand the events from 13 to 15 November 2002, where the political equilibrium may reproduce the myopic decentralized equilibrium.

   Proposition 2 Let be the coastal harbor output set and the subjective environment valuation function Suppose that the probability that the pollution arrives to all harbor after a catastrophe happens off-shore is given; and that, for sufficiently high negative productivity shock the true probability of catastrophe off-shore is higher than the threshold found in Proposition 1, i.e., . Then, if the a Commission for Crises Coordination a priori on the probability of catastrophe off-shore is lower than the threshold found in Proposition 1, i.e., the political equilibrium without financial markets results in an ine±cient allocation , i.e., the Prestige tankship is sent off-shore.

   The proof is similar to the one developed at proposition 1, and uses the opposite argument for a low . That is, if this was the case the political equilibrium allocation has not been Pareto efficient.

   Two political comments on this result is in order. First, as an immediate political recommendation for Spanish maritime authorities, this proposition shares Labandeira el al (2003) suggestion of the urgently need to constitute a contingent scientific and technical committee for a correct evaluation of the risks in order to assess political decisions. Second, this result shows that it is not true the statement that Galiza has no political weight in the Spanish central government decision, i.e., in our notation , since otherwise the vessel would be allowed to enter to any harbor.

   3.4.2 The politician problem with domestic financial markets

   The second case we are going to study assumes the existence of financial markets for spill oil pollution, such the each harbor political authority may trade with other harbors authorities to minimize the impact on its own harbor. It is well known that if financial markets are complete the resulting equilibrium allocation is efficient (see Mass-Collel et al, 1995). However, we will find that this could not be the case because of the decision-takers a prioriprobability of risk greatly differs from true probability, besides the traders at financial markets may not the decision-takers. That is, we enter into the study of the Political Science, study the politician behaviour.

   Suppose that there exists financial markets in the sense that, in the case that the government decide to allow the vessel to enter at a particular harbor, and it is sacrifice in the benefit of the others, some productive resources from the other harbors will be devoted to the affected harbor. The political restriction in the case the leaking vessel enters to harbor h are:



in the case of catastrophe off-shore, i.e., . Consequently, the summation of the net compensations among harbors will be zero in any contingency, so that may be negative or positive, i.e., for , respectively. Additionally, any harbor j affected by the pollution will be additionally paid an exogenous compensation given by the ITOPF in the case that the pollution reaches the coast, although the harbor affected must wait a number of T years to be paid, i.e., or for . Observe that the summation of transfers from the ITOPF to all harbors are upper bounded, i.e., .

   The following proposition sheds doubts about te political decisions with complete markets will yield in a efficient allocation.

   Proposition 3 Let suppose the same conditions as in proposition 2. Also keep the assumption that, for sufficiently high negative productivity shock , the true probability of catastrophe off-shore is higher than the threshold found in Proposition 1, i.e., . Then, if the Commission for Crises Coordination a priori on the probability of catastrophe off-shore is lower than the threshold found in Proposition 1, i.e., , the political equilibrium with financial markets results in an ine±cient allocation . In addition, for each harbor political authorities a priori on the probability of catastrophe off-shore is lower than the threshold found in Proposition 1, i.e., , the myopic equilibrium with financial markets results in the same inefficient allocation .

   At a theoretical level, this proposition sheds doubts that the result found in proposition 2, i.e., the political equilibrium reproduces at the aggregate decision making the free-rider problem, is strictly a problem of missing financial markets; that is, due to any Galician harbor cannot appropriate from the rest of other harbor benefits (both the other Galician and the foreign harbors), none will admit the vessel in its harbor and, then, all the H harbors could be eventually harmed. It could be thought that this is an inefficient allocation because some redistribution of the resources saved in the case of admit a particular harbor could improve all harbors. However, the fact that an inefficient allocation is inevitable achieved, despite the existence of complete financial markets, because of the too low valuation for the stochastic politician a priori when evaluating the risks to send the vessel off-shore, sets this problem beyond the economic theory and enters into the Political Science grounds to study how politicians take decisions.35

   3.4.3 The politician problem with domestic financial markets and scientific assessment: a proposal.

   Consequently, in order the politician problem achieves an efficient allocation, it is required complete markets, besides a suitable scientific and technical assessment to evaluate the risks properly, so that S could be estimated the closer to . At present there is no such scheme, and, once the danger is over and the stress by mass opinion realized, there exists political intertemporal inconsistency by the Spanish government to devote resources to prevent and prepare contingent plans for the next accident, as it was witness in the past (e.g., A Corunna harbor accidents).

   Lemma 1 Under the conditions of Proposition 3, suppose in addition that the scientific and technical assessment can find a close evaluation to the true probability of catastrophe off-shore, i.e., .

   Then for sufficiently high negative productivity shocks , there exists a threshold ¸ of the probability of catastrophe off-shore, such that:

   i) If the estimated probability of catastrophe o®-shore is lower than this threshold , then the efficient allocation consists on sending the leaking vessel off-shore, i.e.,

   ii) If the estimated probability of catastrophe off-shore is higher than the threshold, i.e., , then there will be a Galician harbor h´ HG for which the leaking tankship is introduced, and that received a compensation transfer from the other harbors, i.e., . That is, the e±cient allocation is .

   In the event that a tankship accident in the future, the scientific and technical assessment may suggest to politicians to introduce the vessel in a harbor, case ii), so that this harbor will receive financial compensations from the ITOPF, as well as from the other harbors. This idea is closely to the "port of refuge," or "shelter haven," proposed by the IMO (2001) and the European Commission (see González Laxe et al, 2003a,b,c and Labandeira et al, 2003).

   One final comment. Observe that due the discrete decision making (enter/no enter), the e±cient allocations resulted from the descentralized equilibrium are a correspondence. That is, there exists several compensation schemes for which the decision is taken. The only requirement is that the transfers made by some harbor will be lower than the case where the vessel is introduced inside its harbor. This may be an advantage from the political implementation point of view, as several distribution of resources allow to achieve an e±cient allocation. The following example illustrates this.

   Example. Suppose that there exists only three Galician harbors, 1; 2; 3 HG with H = HG. Their cost function is given at Table 1.




   Proposition 2 may applied straight forward. For example, for the equalitarian social planner weights it can be found the threshold = 2/7. Notice that if a true probability > = 2/7, the efficient allocation with complete markets will be Choice 1, with the vessel placed at and a monetary transfers in flow for the harbor j = 1, i.e., and a monetary transfers outflow for the harbors j = 2, 3. Observe that, due the discrete feature of the decision problem, any allocation with with j = 1, 2 and is an efficient allocation.

   However, proposition 2 and 3 show that in the case that the politicians have a very low a priori stochastic with respect the true probability, , they will choose Choice 4, and then the inefficient allocation may be achieved despite the possible existence of financial markets.

   Alternatively, in the case the politicians have scientific and technical assessment, Lemma 1 shows that politician decisions of vessel placement and transfers, will restore efficiency. This is interesting because, due the discrete feature of the decision problem, the politician have a menu of optimal allocations. 2


4 .-CONCLUSION


   In this we paper have shown that the Spanish government decisions of refusing to admit the leaking tankship Prestige in any Galician harbor on 13-14 November 2002, may be understood in the light of economic theory: first due to missing markets for pollution accidents both domestic and international, i.e. the non existence of any international maritime protocol; and second, because of Spanish government incompetence by neglecting the counsel of scientific institutions to assess the possible risks in the event of a catastrophe, which made the authorities to misperceive the risks involved on the decisions taken, and then hid to population information about all possible dangers.

   We have studied this in a simple model, where two elements play a crucial role: he property rights of allowing a vessel enter some harbor, and the politician a priori probabilities on the risks involved in the decision to send the vessel out of coast. In the case the right belongs to the harbor political authority, whose probability a priori are considered to be zero, we found that send the vessel off-shore is the equilibrium of the myopic decentralized problem. We can determined the Pareto efficient-allocations where, depending on the value of the true probability with respects a particular threshold, the vessel may be allowed to enter or not and a suitable compensation scheme of resources are undertaken in the case of catastrophe. Finally, the property rights belongs to the Spanish government. We find a result where the vessel will be sent off-shore, if the politicians a priori probability of risk is very low, as seems to happen in the Prestige affair; this result shows that this political equilibrium is inefficient. In order to support our statement that this was the case, we understood detailed that the Spanish political a priori probability came from the past experience in a previous accident, the Castor incident on December 2000, and the maritime protocol implemented came to be the same in the Prestige case: rescue the crew and send the vessel as far as possible. Besides, this fits well with the "logic of irrationality" behavior of politicians, as studied in Political Science.

   Several comments are in order. First, on the theoretical grounds, this paper warns theneed for integrate politician decisions into economic theory when political decision making is involved. There is a long tradition in economic theory that points out market failures and supports some government intervention to achieve first best or even second best allocations. However, the study developed in this paper shows that even in the case that there exists no market failure, e.g., missing financial markets, so that Economic Theory expects an efficient allocation outcome, the allocations achieved could be inefficient because of the way political decisions are taken.

   Second, as a policy recommendation, it is an appeal for the need of an international maritime protocol, which includes scientific assessment for this kind of situations, places of refuge,36 and a suitable compensation scheme in this kind of catastrophes from those who are benefited, all as a way to improve social welfare. In fact, because of huge maritime traffic close to Galician coast, the seasonal stormy weather in North Atlantic ocean, as well as the experience along last decades, it is reasonable to think that more accidents, many of them inevitable, will happen in the near future. This highlights a warning urge to adopt the necessary steps to be prepared for the next one. The constitution of a scientific and technical committee for this contingency seems to be the easiest first step, so that this kind of political decisions and this type of disasters will be repeated Never More (Nunca Máis).

   Finally, this paper left some issues open. First, it is an open question which would be the suitable Galician harbor to introduce the vessel as demanded to those critics with the government decision the Spanish President, the Vice-President and the Ministry of Transportation in the Parliament. This is left for an empirical study.37

   Second, in the International Penal Law grounds, as the Spanish government decisions magnified the catastrophe due to the protocol followed,38 it could be the case that Spanish government (and then the Spanish harbors) has to pay other European harbors, e.g., Portuguese and mainly French, for polluting them.

   Finally, at the theoretical level, further research must be devoted to formalize some elements that plays a role in the political decisions making (e.g., the lack of confidence of the voter, etc.). The Prestige aggair was a extreme case where the State failed to support citizen needs in a democratic government elected, so those elements and the policy implementation may be easily and sharply. For example, hide information to the citizens by the Spanish government, in order to minimize the problem and reduce subjective psychological pain, in our notation vh(e), increase social welfare. This could be optimal for citizens, because they are less psychological stressed with the bad news about a leaking tankship,39 as well as for the politicians who, in the case that finally nothing happens, will keep credibility and do not miss voters.40 However, this procedure is dangerous, for in the case events goes wrong as in the Prestige accident, the more the government tried to hide information the less happiercitizens are, as they feel cheated by the government,41 orphan from their elected political representative,42 unsheltered by the State against the catastrophe,43 and social movements and individual initiative arise aside the political parties (so that politicians and institutions miss credibility) both to face the catastrophe, as well as to protest.44 This would require further modelization on the subjective psychological function vh, and the consequences on efficiency and political decentralized equilibrium will be open to explore.

   A final comment. Introduce the vessel into some harbor will inevitably arise some social protests of those affected. The distribution of the voters may also play a role in the case of a political decision. The population wants its politicians to defend their own local interests, no matter if the decision is social optimal unless they are suitable compensated.45


Footnotes


1 This fund was created on 1992 by 74 countries within the International Maritime Organization. Its main goal is to complete the compensations paid by the vessel insurance in the case that these are insuficient. Other initiatives came after the Exxon Valdez accident on 1989, where the United States passed a law where the compensation of the polluters has no limit, and after the Erika accident on 1999, where a similar law was proposed by France but the European Parliament passed instead a transition period up to 2015.


2 General economic effects on the Galician economy (De la Dehesa, 2002), the negative effects on the Galician fishery sector (Doldan Garc³a et al., 2003, Domínguez Torreiro et al, 2003, García Negro, 2003, Garza-Gil et al, 2003, Puñal, 2003, or Queipo, 2003), and on other economic activities like tourism (Pardellas-de-Blas et al, 2003).

3 For example, Doldán García (2003a,b), Grandío Dopico (2003), García Negro et al (2002), Prada et al. (2003), Prada et al. (2002), Santamaria-Conde (2002), or Vazquez et al. (2003b). Observe that the valuation of the damages of pollution has to take into account present and future losses in economic activities (e.g., sea extracting activities, tourism), and use and existence value, as well as the destruction, of natural environment. This means that some monetary valuation requires some methodology for some non-market goods, see Nogueira-Moure et al (2003), and it also has to rely on Marine Biology studies. (See Barja-Perez et al, 2003; Bermejo-Barrera et al, 2003; Carballeira Ocaña, 2003; Domínguez-Conde, 2003; Duarte, 2003; Fernandez-Pulpeiro et al, 2003; Mora-Bermudez et al, 2003; Murado, 2003a,b; Perez-Cirera et al, 2003; or Urgorri-Carrasco et al, 2003.)

 4 See González Laxe et al, 2003a, and Vence, 2003. However, some institutions considered that, despite the Prestige accident, there have been the enormous improvements that have already occurred along last decades thanks to the successful safety and prevention programmes implemented by the industry, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes because of new regulations promulgated by governments through the International Maritime Organization (see ITOPF, 2003, p.1). The results of a study by the US National Research Council (2002) show that the incidence of major tanker spills has decreased dramatically since the 1970s and the amount of oil that reaches the worlds oceans from this source is now relatively small compared with natural and other man-made inputs, particularly down rivers and from urban run-off.

 5 After the Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska on 1989, several important accidents happened in Europe (Haven, 1991; Aegean Sea, 1992; Braer, 1993; Sea Empress, 1996; and Erika, 1999). However, although the US authorities quickly hardened its regulation issued the Oil Pollution Act on 1990 determining the responsibility of the maritime oil carrier and with no upper limit of compensation, the slow EU bureaucracy are still looking for an agreement.

 6 See also Glen et al (2002) for a description of the features of the transportation market of fuel and
derivatives.

 7 See, Labandeira et. al (2003), Moro (2002), Navaza Blanco (2002), Nunca Máis (2003), Parga López (2002), Rodríguez Sierra (2002), Santamaria Conde (2003), Vallejo (2003) or Vazquez, et al. (2003a). Additionally some of these authors suggest complementary economic policies.

 8 Observe that, given that the reduction of the risk on transportation to zero is not realistic, the regulatory requirements to be set in order to reduce the risks of accidents in the future (which would include technical requirements of the vessels, a clear compensation responsibilities in the case of accident, a penalty scheme and some supervision measures) requires a joint effort by engineering, economics and law.

 9 A point of view from the Law literature can be sawn in García Rubio (2003), García Rubio et al (2003) or Martínez Bujan (2003).

 10 This government intervention would include prevention to reduce risks, an emergency plan to limit damage and reduce losses, and the treatment and regeneration to recover the state previous to the catastrophe (see Walker et al, 1979).

 11 See the letter published in Science by Serret, Alvarez Salgado, Bode and 419 scientists (2003) (and see also Burton, 2003, and Bohannon and Bosch, 2003). Mr. Serret arguments could not be explained in the Spanish Parliament because of the majority veto of the Spanish government supporting Popular Party (see Comisiones, 2003, pp.22874-81).

 12 See Barreiro Rivas (2003).

 13 The reports by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) (2003a), the Bahamas Maritime Authority (2003) and the French Office for the Research of Maritime Accidents (BEA-Mer) (2003), all criticize that. See, in addition, a strong institutional critic issued by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy (2003).

 14 The decision to send the vessel off-shore was backed at the Parliment by Mr. Aznar, the Spanish President, Mr.Rajoy Brey, the Spanish Vice-president, and Mr. Alvarez Cascos, the Ministry of Transportation, and even defied the opposition parties to let him know in which Galician harbor should be docked the vessel (see Pleno y Diputacion Permanente, 2002b, p.10763; and Comisiones Mixtas, 2002, P.2848; Pleno y Diputacion Permanente, 2002c, p.10960, respectively). Moreover, the decision will be taken again if an accident is repeated, as reported by the Spanish government (see Senado, 2003, p.48).

 15 See several statements by Mr.Rajoy Brey to the Parliament (Comisiones Mixtas, 2002, p.2810, 2831; or Pleno y Diputacion Permanente, 2002b, p.10787). However, before the vessel was sunk, there was no technical nor scientific reports on the evaluation of the puncture vessel, and the set of available alternatives jointly with its contingent outcomes (included the frozened of the oil "as a brick" appealed by the Delegate of Spanish government in Galiza, 19 November 2002) have been ever publicly reported by any government office.

 16 The economic literature claims for the need of protocols in the case of accident (see González Laxe et al, 2003c, or Labandeira et al, 2003). However, despite the lack of resources to prevent and flight against pollution in Spain (see Acinas, 2003, and Acinas et al, 1991), a protocol was designed on June, 2001 after a sham exercise in A Corunna, at the Spanish Atlantic coast. This exercise consisted on a supposed collision at 45 miles north, with a tankship involved which spilled oil out. However, this protocol was not follow at the time of the accident.

 17 After wandering through the calm Mediterranean waters for 35 days without find a sheltered place to effect cargo transfer and repair, it was towed to a relatively sheltered spot off the coast of Tunisia where her cargo was safely unloaded. Mr. Lopez-Sors, an marine engineer, was already the Head of the Merchant Maritime office at that time, and he usually shown publicly proud that this was the protocol to be implemented when a vessel is in trouble: first, attend the crew, and then send the ship as far as possible from the coast (see Cacho, 2002). However, Mr. O´Neil, the IMO Secretary-General, showed his concerns for this incident, which brought to light the question of ports of refuge, and suggested that IMO should consider the problem globally and adopt any measures required to ensure that coastal States reviewed their contingency arrangements so that disabled ships were provided with assistance (see IMO, 2001)

 18 The "logic of indecision" explains that, in some particular circumstances, all political decisions are aimed into two implicit goals: further the problem, and transfer the problem from one government office to another in order to avoid responsibilities (see Barreiro Rivas, 2003).

 19 González Laxe et al (2003c), Labandeira et al (2003), ABS (2003a), IMO (2001), European Commision, etc.

 20 This section that describe the accident is mainly taken from Bahamas Maritime Authority (2003) and
ITOPF (2003). For more technical details see ABS (2003a) and International Association of Classification
Societies (IACS) (2003). For a detailed description of the events in the Spanish Parliament see the official Spanish government version in Comisiones (2002a, pp.20927-31), Comisiones Mixtas (2002, pp.2809-10), Pleno y Diputacion Permanente (2002a, pp.10503-4), and for critical version of the opposition Pleno y Diputacion Permanente (2002b, p.10782-4).

 21 At present, there exist a supranational office at the European Union that issues maritime law within the European Union, but with no capacity to take decisions on European maritime coasts.

22 For example, the Merchant Maritime Office, belonged to the Minister of Transportation, in the Spanish case, or the Delegate of the Minister of Environment, Transport and Regions for the United Kingdom (see Acinas, 2003).

23 In fact we are assuming a discrete distribution of the negative productivity cost Some other assumption on distribution could be thought more realistic, such as based on distance basis centered on harbor h or on harbor h location of its fishery activities.

24 The literature usually take g as linear, but convexity may be assumed as well.

25 Notice that the opposite means that for enough low level of the probability , the optimal decision is to send the vessel off-shore. This is the case, for example, when the probability that nothing is happen is quite high, i.e., close to zero.

26 See the Spanish Law Puertos del Estado y de la Marina Mercante 27/1992, article 87.

27 One month after the accident it was still not clear who take the decision (see Mr.Rajoy-Brey statement in Pleno y Diputacion Permanente, 2002b, p.10792). Later it was known that the decisions in the case of the Prestige were taken by the Commission for Crises Coordination, created on 14 November at 5:00AM (see Comisiones Mixtas, 2002, p. 2811), and constituted by the Delegate of the Spanish government in Galiza, Mr. Fernandez De Mesa, the Head of the Merchant Maritime Office, Mr. Lopez Sors, and its delegate in A Corunna, the Capitan of A Coruña Harbor Headquarters, Mr. Del Real, with the acquiescence of the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Alvarez Cascos, who required to send the vessel as far as possible. See Comisiones (2002b, p.21246).

28 Two facts reinforce this argument. First, there exists no international financial markets where a Galician harbor can be appropriate from the benefits of, e.g., the French Atlantic harbors. Besides, although the path taken by the Prestige after impelled to move off Galician coast would seem erratic, see Picture 1, in fact the Spanish oficials at the Commission for Crises Coordination tried to send the problem towards Portuguese maritime zone, as announced by Mr. Fernandez De Mesa on November, 15th. This also supports the "logic of the indecision" pointed out by the Political Science authors (Barreiro Rivas, 2003).

29 This fund was created after the Erika accident in the Bretagne coast on 1998, and it has a limit of 180 million euros. The ITOPF spent 5 to 8 years to pay the previous accident in A Corunna, the Aegean Sea on 1995.

30 Some of these arguments to justify the decision of send the vessel off-shore were displayed by the Spanish Vice-president Mr. Rajoy Brey to the Spanish Parliament (see Comisiones Mixtas, 2002, p.2810 and Pleno y Diputacion Permanente, 2002b, p.10787).

31 Maritime Biologist strongly criticized this decision (see Serret et al, 2003) as well as some technical reports by ABS, Bahamas Maritime Authority, BEA-Mer and ITOPF, besides the strong institutional critic
issued by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy. Some examples can be given: "There is little doubt that the ultimate failure of the hull structure and subsequent sinking of Prestige can be attributed to six days of additional dynamic sloshing inside the structure and external wave impact on the damaged structure while the vessel was adrift or under tow in the open ocean," ABS (2003a, p.i); "Eventually, the determining factors of the disaster could be as follows: [among others,] keeping the ship at sea in extreme conditions for another six days following the initial damage," BEA-Mer (2003); "It is arguable that if it had been possible to allow the Prestige access to a safe haven for lightering, the total spill volume would have been restricted to the initial loss, thereby limiting the extent of the coastline affected," ITOPF (2003, p.2); "[I]f decisive action had been taken at an early stage to move the ship to a more sheltered location, the ship and its cargo would almost certainly have been saved and any pollution would have been minimal," Bahamas Maritime Authority (2003); or, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy (2003) "[d]eplores Spain´s decision to tow the Prestige out to sea, whereas a decision to bring it into calm waters (and even into a safe haven) would have made it possible to contain and limit the extent of a disaster which was clearly going to happen." Finally, in a tough response to the Government of Spain sue against ABS, seeking recovery for any claims made against the classification society for damages arising from the Prestige casualty, ABS \alleges that the Governments decision to deny
the vessel access to a place of refuge was a clear violation of its legal duty and that the Government acted recklessly, negligently and grossly negligently in its response to the casualty. [...] Spain should reasonably have foreseen that its actions, including assuming control of the vessel, refusing the request for a place of refuge or to move the vessel to a location where the cargo could have been off-loaded, and ordering the vessel away from the coast in deteriorating weather, could cause pollution in the sovereign territories of the
Republic of France, the Kingdom of Spain itself, and other potentially affected areas which may include Portugal and the United Kingdom. ABS contends such wrongful acts of the Kingdom of Spain were the sole cause of any damage alleged in the complaint, as well as injuries which may have occurred elsewhere.
These actions [...] were in direct violation of the Governments duties under applicable law, including the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). [T]he actions taken by the Spanish Government directly contravened its obligations under the 1989 Salvage Convention, to which Spain is a signatory." ABS (2003b)

32 See Cacho (2003) and Barreiro Rivas (2003).

 33 On 31 December, 2000 the Castor, a vessel with inflammable burden, suffered an accident in front of Almeria, at the Spanish Mediterranean coast. After rescuing the crew, the vessel was forced to move off-shore. After wandering through the calm Mediterranean waters for 35 days without find a sheltered place to effect cargo transfer and repair, it was towed to a relatively sheltered spot offthe coast of Tunisia where her cargo was safely unloaded. Mr. Lopez Sors was already at that time the Head of the Marine Merchant Office.

 34 The Delegate of the Spanish government in Galiza, Mr. Fernandez De Mesa, periodically displayed
several fate scientific arguments along the days 14 to 20 November 2003. These came to show the lack of
academic assessment, jointly with the strong confidence that nothing will happen; for example, "The heavy
fuel of the Prestige that have sunk will get solid due to the low temperature and it will remain there forever,"
19 November 2003 or "The fuel will be frozen as a brick."

 35 Additionally, the government should spend some money on resources to prevent and mitigate some of this events (to build a refuge harbor, to maintain some assistant vessels, etc.). This will improve the economy of the harbor where all these prevented measures were taken... which may also be difficult politically to sell.

 36 The choose of the place could not be a trivial one, again due to the political pressure. A problem of
redistribution between harbors must be faced. (For example, a head line could be read in Faro de Vigo nespaper: "Vigo harbor will lose activity in the case a refugee harbor is built close to Corunna".)

 37 However, see Comisiones (2002b, p.21246) for some arguments and technical opinions to support the docking of Prestige at the A Corunna harbor.

38 It is not clear whether the responsibility of this way of decision making has to be restricted to political
ones (and finally, by citizens with their votes), or if it has some judicial implications. Notice that, in the case that ABS (2003b) is right, the members of the Committee of Crises Coordination may be sued because of not require scientific and technical assessment to take the decision.

39 Again, past experiences led the political way of procedure in the Prestige case by the Spanish government. On November 2000 the first cases of the Mad Cow disease sprung in Galicia, but the Spanish government minimize information so that consumer confidence do not drop on meat goods.

40 Many examples can be given. "The most likely is that the fuel will not reach the coast," Mr. Fernandez De Mesa, Delegate of the Spanish government in Galiza, 14 November; "The most warning danger has gone, Mr. Fraga Iribarne, President of Galiza, 15 November; "Thanks to the quick intervention of the Spanish authorities moving away the vessel from shore, we do not fear an ecological catastrophe," Mr. Arias Cañete, Minister of Agriculture, 16 November; or, "I think that there are some warnings less than justified," Mr. Aznar, Spanish President, 27 November.

41 The difference of the Prestige affair with respect the "Mad Cow" affair was that citizens can not monitoring what happened in the farms, while it was very easy to visit the coast and beaches and see the catastrophe. The issue that what citizens saw with respect what government informed increased citizens irritation. For example, the fear of government politicians to call the catastrophe a "black tide" as a way to minimize the catastrophe along the weeks, while citizens were sawn all the pollution on the coast. "We cannot call a black tide; there are disperse and black spots," Mr. Lopez-Sors, 17 November; or "It affects a broad part of A Corunna, but it is not a black tide," and "It is not a black tied, but a very located spots," Mr. Rajoy Brey, 23 November. This follows up to 5 December when Mr. Rajoy-Brey spoke at the Parliament, see Comisiones Mixtas, 2002.

42 For example, the Spanish Ministers involved, as well as the Galician President, last for long to visit the area, and the Spanish President waited for one month. In addition, on the weekend after the accident, 16-17 November, several Ministers involved (included of Transportation and Environment), as well as the Galician President, went hunting. Although first they deny this, finally they had to recognize it.

43 Due to government hide information to citizens they followed other foreign sources of information (the French CEDRE, and the Portuguese Instituto Hidrografico) to collect news about the evolution of the catastrophe. Even more, the Spanish official information (e.g., "The tide will not reach the Rías Baixas," Rajoy-Brey, 21 November), delayed the preparatives to defend against the black tide, so that without Government aid seamen and women from Rías Baixas (Ría de Arousa) moved towards the entrance of the
harbors to collect oil with own-invented stuffand even with their own hands on 3-4 November, and later in Ría de Vigo.

44 The social movement Nunca Máis, created on 1992 after the Aegean Sea catastrophe, took its importance this time to fill the gap left by the official institutions. Nunca Mais gathered all the protests, call for demonstrations, sue government politicians, etc. Even the Center Intelligence Agency (CIA) (2003) considered that this was a "political group of pressure" in Spain. The Spanish government politician tried to reduce its popularity, and Nunca Mais was sued although nothing was proved. (This can be understood since in democratic societies, politicians has the monopoly of citizens need representation, as they are elected democratically by them. No one choose Nunca Mais leaders.) Wrongly estimation of the true probabilities should include this kind of social feelings and events.

45 The idea of the Plan Galicia seems to go in this line, to restore confidence on the Spanish government
in exchange of public monetary transfers.


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About the Author

Autor: Eduardo L. Giménez
Dirección: Departamento de Fundamentos da Análise Económica e Historia e Institucions Económicas, Universidade de Vigo E36200 Vigo (Galiza) Spain
Correo electrónico:
egimenez@uvigo.es

"I am thankful to Jaime Alonso, Fidel Castro-Rodríguez, María Jesus Freire, Xose Manuel González, Fuco Lores, Daniel Miles, Miguel Rodríguez Mendez and the participants of the Seminario de Macroeconomía".

 

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