Agir pour la reconnaissance du dommage écologique des marées noires : attachements, stratégies et justification. Cas de l'Amoco Cadiz et de l'Erika

Abstract : Over the last forty years, an oil tanker has sunk off the Brittany coast of France every five years on average. Each time, the ecological damage from the oil slick has mobilised huge numbers of people to volunteer and demonstrate, and generated public controversy and criticism of regulatory procedures. Although oil spills provoke evident impacts, neither the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC Funds) nor French Law recognise environmental detriment as a motif for financial compensation by the operators. The damages and pollution are taken into account firstly as economic and material losses, and secondly in terms of damage to biodiversity requiring habitat restoration actions. Critics highlight the feeble deterrent and the lack of incentive for maritime oil transporters to reduce risks: in relation to their profits the costs of an oil slick to them is regarded as derisory. These critics also call for recognition of ecological damages by the law. This would allow environmental pollution to incur economic and juridical responsibilities, and for environmental harm to require compensation.This research project looks at change processes leading to the recognition of ecological damage from oil slicks. We do not add to the existing substantial debate over the efficiency or interest of integrating environmental concerns into conduct rules and the legal system, nor evaluate different methods for doing do. Instead we study the realities of ecological damage, and analyse actions for change implemented by different actors to provoke their recognition. This analysis is based on two case studies: the oil slicks from the Amoco Cadiz (1978) and the Erika (1999).We explore an alternative and wider approach to understanding the harm caused by an oil slick, by considering that it damages multiple relationships between man and the environment. Using the concept of pragmatic sociology (Thévenot, “L’action au pluriel”, 2006) we reveal the multiple realities of ecological damage in terms of the relations between humans and nonhumans. These relations cannot be described in purely commercial nor ecological terms. Using a strategic analysis of environmental management (Mermet et al., 2005), we study how actors elaborate an action for change and how the action represents environmental damage. We look particularly at how the challenge of the action leads to certain choices when qualifying the damage to the courts.Thus, the study proposes new information on ecological damage, allowing the definition to be renewed (theoretical interest). By examining ecological damage in terms of harm to human – nonhuman relations, it provides an interesting support for new forms of justification in the public arena, and promotes legal recognition of ecological damage (operational interest). Finally, the study brings together, and shows to be complementary, two conceptual frameworks hereto unarticulated in human sciences. The study reveals the multiple individual and collective realities of environmental dynamics, and thus allows a richer understanding of the implementation of an action for change than a standard analysis of collective action (Cefai, 2007).
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Claire Bouteloup. Agir pour la reconnaissance du dommage écologique des marées noires : attachements, stratégies et justification. Cas de l'Amoco Cadiz et de l'Erika. Gestion des risques [q-fin.RM]. AgroParisTech, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015AGPT0062⟩. ⟨tel-01755714⟩

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