Madrid has launched a get-tough policyMalta has asked Portugal and Spain to state what criteria they applied when they banned a Maltese-flagged oil tanker from their waters last week, the head of the Malta Maritime Authority said. The 15-year-old Moskovisky Festival was forced from Spanish waters yesterday. Portugal also kept the single-hulled tanker out of its waters. The Moskovisky Festival had been on its way to Gibraltar carrying the same kind of heavy fuel oil as the tanker Prestige, which sank on November 19 and leaked tonnes of oil that has devastated stretches of the Spanish Atlantic coast. Madrid has launched a get-tough policy following the sinking of the 26-year-old Prestige, which was Bahamas-flagged and Greek-operated. Malta Maritime Authority chairman Marc Bonello said a similar request would be made to France after it dispatched a warship to force the Maltese-flagged tanker Enalios Titan from French waters. Bonello told the Times of Malta newspaper in an interview published on Friday that the Moskovisky Festival was last inspected at Santa Cruz, Tenerife, on October 30 and the Spanish authorities themselves had certified it safe. There does not appear to be set criteria for these expulsions and the industry is in utter disarray, Bonello said. The Moskovisky Festival was built in 1985 and can be in service up to 2011. It has never been detained, but within a month it became a vagabond ship. Bonello defended the safety record of the Maltese shipping flag, the fifth biggest in the world. Being a bigger flag poses a bigger risk and having more ships increases the likelihood of accidents, he said, adding there were signs the Maltese flag was discriminated against.
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