Prevailing sea conditions have lead to many pollution incidents off the South African coast, with many more averted by ship lightening and pumping operations. The Castillo De Bellver (1983) broke up off Cape Town releasing 240 000 tonnes of crude oil. Dispersants were used and although birdlife was affected, no oil came ashore. The bulk carrier Apollo Sea (1994) sank off Cape Town spilling bunker fuel and thereby severely contaminating beaches and oiling penguins. A large shoreline clean-up operation was put into effect. The Treasure (2000), another bulk carrier, also sank in heavy seas off Cape Town, spilling at least 200 tonnes of heavy fuel oil. The incident severely affected two large breeding colonies of African penguins on Robben and Dassen Islands and resulted in the evacuation of 21 000 birds. Other incidents include the Pacificos (1989) and the Atlas Pride (1991).
Integrated risk reduction, preparedness, emergency planning and monitoring (especially during times of stormy weather, high seas and Gale-force winds around the coast) are necessary. Response plans and resources are in place by the various role-players, co-ordinated by the National Department of Environmental Affairs, and supported by provincial, municipal and private companies to deal with any incident.