The present document opens a series of technical information papers released by ITOPF. this booklet has been devoted to the marine oil spills and their aerial observation. Subject reconnaissance is considered one of the critically important elements of the effective response to the most of marine oil spills.

It is widely used for the assessment of location where the spill has occurred and of the extent of contamination by oil. It is also an important instrument for verification of the prediction of oil slicks movement at sea. Such surveillance will provide all required information that will be used by the specialists to facilitate the deployment and further control of the operations, protection of the areas under threat and preparation of the various resources used for the clean-up of the shoreline.

The document provides professional guidance and practical advice on how the aerial reconnaissance shall be provided effectively to reach the desired results. Starting with the description of the observation strategy, it then moves to the preparations to be made, recording and reporting matters, appearance of oil and quantifying its volumes, remote sensing techniques etc. A useful publication for anyone involved in the oil spills observation and associated activities.

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Over the past half-century the technical staff of ITOPF organization have already responded to almost seven hundred spills from the ships in nearly hundred countries in order to provide participants of the shipping industry with the objective advice on the measures of clean-ups, associated economic and environmental effects, and, finally, the compensation.

The most part of the above mentioned spills involved crude oil carriers, however in some of them chemicals, bunker fuel oils and bulk cargoes were spilled from all types of vessels. Though this handbook was published nearly five years ago, the experience and cases contained in its pages are still actual and valuable.

Among the topics covered within this booklet there are technical and various information services, statistics of the oil spills occurred, fate of the spills, oil classification table and clean-up techniques, proper organization and planning of the spill response, description of the potential negative effects caused by such spills, status of the relevant international conventions, associated publications, marine spill compensation, including liability and wreck removal matters, national laws, acts, conventions and other recognized documents. 

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