Preventing Coastal Oil Pollution in Zanzibar Using Drones



Preventing Coastal Oil Pollution in Zanzibar Using Drones

“It is not easy to see oil from the ocean surface” says Mr Stig Nordaas, from the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) Emergency Response Center during an oil spill containment drill just off the coast of the picturesque island of Zanzibar. In this oil spill response exercise, a simulated tanker was leaking diesel from its submarine cable. A bird’s eye view can solve this problem easily and quickly with the help of drones, like the one deployed by Tanzania Flying Labs (TFL) to assist the NCA during the exercise.

The weather threw us a curveball with heavy rain but we were still able to deploy a multicopter drone to detect the oil spill and identify its parameters. Two boats from the Zanzibar Maritime Authority rapidly reached the site and the drone was also able to assist the pilots to skillfully maneuver an oil containment boom. Finally, the oil was pumped out of the sea into barrels ready for recycling or disposal onshore.

This simulation exercise was conducted under the auspices of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation’s Oil for Development Program. Local stakeholders such as the Zanzibar Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Zanzibar Port Corporation, State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), and Zanzibar Environmental Management Agency were on-hand to learn how to better coordinate amongst themselves during maritime disasters.

Environmental protection and sustainable management is one of the key focus areas of TFL. We are keen to collaborate with environmental partners and create useful information products using drones for protecting fragile ecosystems.

Written by Leka Tingitana