Port of the month

Port of the Month: Port of Vigo

01 July 2015

The port of this month is the Port of Vigo, located in the Spanish region of Galicia. We asked Carlos Botana Lagarón, Head of Enviromental Policies of the Port Authority of Vigo, to answer some questions about challenges, opportunities and environmental policies in his port.

ESPO: Can you briefly tell us about the Port of Vigo? What are its main characteristics and challenges?

VIGO: The Port of Vigo is a natural harbour in the Bay of Vigo, situated northwest of the Iberian Peninsula and 45 miles south of the North Atlantic line. The Bay of Vigo is known all around Europe because of its exceptional natural environment, as it features the National Park of the Cíes Islands, and five areas categorised as special environmental protection, in addition to being an area of great relevance regarding fishing and shellfish activities. Due to these facts, the Port Authority of Vigo has committed to a strict environmental stewardship, and thus, is currently implementing several environmental policies with the main aim to become a “Green Port”.

The Port of Vigo offers a magnificent shelter from storms thanks to the natural protection of the Cies Islands and the Peninsula of Morrazo (over 14,000 hectares of sheltered water). The port is operational 365 days a year and is considered as a highly safe port.

The total cargo handled in the port in 2014 can be divided in the following way: 85% general cargo, 7% bulk and solids (mainly cement), and 1.5% liquid bulk.

Regarding the evolution of traffic in 2014, it is worth mentioning that the share of the fishing industry (frozen, salted, fresh and processed) increased by 4.89%, vehicles and parts (despite the decline in cargo in 2014) have moved up to 567,272 vehicles, metals have experienced an increase of 36% and granite increased by 15%. The importance of the Port of Vigo is being a port highly specialized in high-value goods, representing a large number of jobs and being a local motor of economic growth.


ESPO: During the EU Sustainable Energy Week, the Port of Vigo hosted the Green Energy Ports conference (15th- 17th June). When it comes to environmental management systems, the Port of Vigo can be regarded as a forerunner. The Port has received the Ecoport PERS, ISO 14001 and EMAS certificates. Could you briefly present the environmental policies of your port?

VIGO: The first step has been obtaining international certifications. In 2007, we obtained the ISO 14001 certification. In 2010, there was another step forward by obtaining the EMAS III registration. In 2013, ECOPORTS / ESPO granted the Port of Vigo with a PERS certification (Port Environmental Review System) , representing a European recognition of the environmental management of the Port of Vigo.

The environmental policies of the Port of Vigo aim at obtaining the goal of becoming a Green Port. This means using the newest technologies to reduce the impact of port activities on the environment. Those include among others the implementation of Cold Ironing, LNG, the monitoring of the quality of air and water, waste valorisation, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The commitment to environmental protection and performance of the Port Authority of Vigo is reflected by participating in numerous projects to achieve maximum sustainability and energy efficiency, such as the TEFLES project (Technologies and Scenarios for Low Emissions Shipping), the Green Port Energy Centre project (GPEC) or the large port energy efficiency study that is taking place at the Port of Vigo by Ports of State, a part of the proposal of the State Ports to create a guide of energy management in ports, which will be spanned to all port authorities.

With regard to waste management, the Port Authority of Vigo increases every year the degree of valorisation through different projects and agreements, such as the one with Ecopilas and Ambilamp, which has hit a record in 2014 with ratios above 72% recycling. The project also entails a reduction in spending, in pollution associated with waste management, and an increase in employment.

During the last year and on a continuous effort, the Port Authority has been working with the coastal fleet to bring to port all waste caught on their nets, thereby achieving a complete cleaning of our coastal sea bed.

ESPO: The Port of Vigo is the main port of Galicia when it comes to the traffic of high value goods. Could you briefly describe what is meant by 'high value goods'? How do you think this business will evolve over the next years?

: High-value traffic is traffic that generates great wealth in the port’s close surroundings. It is also traffic that has a higher economic value, for example vehicles, containers, fish, wind turbines, big components, processed granite, etc.

According to a study carried out by the Port Authority of Vigo in 2014, the main sectors attached to the port activity are fishing, vehicles, granite and shipbuilding industry. These activities generate more than 54.000 direct jobs (fishing port – 20.000; vehicles – 18.500; shipbuilding industry – 2.700; granite – 6.300).

Such traffic does not cause pollution and strengthens the production as well. The future of this traffic is considered to increasingly grow over the next years. In the first quarter of 2014, the increment of this traffic in the Port of Vigo increased over 6%, and the policy of the Port of Vigo is to continue favouring this traffic as a mechanism of creation of high added value and qualified employment in its surroundings.

ESPO: How important is the cruise business for your port?

: In 2014, the Port of Vigo, received two times “the Oasis of the Seas”, which is considered as the largest cruiser to date in the world (362 metres long and 64 metres wide). This resulted in the arrival of around 14.000 visitors (passengers and crew) and had a repercussion on the local economy of close to a million euros. Along this double call, the Port of Vigo welcomed last year more than 80 cruisers’ calls responsible for approximately 250.000 people. Therefore, the Port of Vigo can be considered as the leader in the whole North and Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula as regards passengers.

In the last years, the Port Authority of Vigo has actively promoted the cruise business because it contributes to a high added value to the city of Vigo as it creates and boosts tourism (public transport, restaurant and hotel businesses) and in terms of improvement of the Port and city’s image.


ESPO: The Port of Vigo is one of the most important fishing ports in the world. How is the business evolving? What are the main challenges?

: The fish cargo (both frozen and fresh) has reached a record volume of approximately 800.000 tonnes. Its main destinations are Egypt, China, South Korea and Vietnam. Asia is becoming one of the main destinations of the processed frozen fish. In fact, more than 30% of the frozen fish that is exported from Spain departs from Vigo. The movement of fish as a whole (frozen, salted, fresh and processed) keeps showing its strength as the main economic sector of the Port of Vigo and sets it as one of the most important fishing ports in the world.

At this moment, the main challenges the fishing sector faces in Vigo are related to the sector’s sustainability and the ability to offer a higher added value. To achieve this, the port carried out several projects, such as the implementation of LNG to be used by fishing vessels, SMART systems and energy efficiency systems in auction halls, systems to reduce the fishing of non-objective species (bycatch), valorisation of organic waste to use in pharmaceutical or medicinal by-products. On the other hand, there is the commitment of the fishing vessels to cleane the sea and to increase the valorisation of the waste collected to use in the manufacturing of clothing or accessories (for vehicles, etc.).

ESPO: The IMO's decision on Sulphur Emission Control Areas will provide a stimulus for the development of LNG projects in Northern Europe. But how do you evaluate the potential of LNG as a ship fuel for Southern Europe?

: Although Southern Europe and especially Spain is not located in a SECA area, it doesn’t exclude that such countries do not want to stay behind in the race to implement technologies related to LNG and desulphurization of the Ports’ network and maritime traffic. In the specific case of Spain, where a strong network of LNG storage (12 GAS plants in ports) and provisioning exist, the development of LNG is considered as a State project due to the fact that it can support supplying in the SECA areas. Complementarily, this change of tendency involves a great opportunity in the development of new technologies, in the construction of vessels that can be very important in the future of the shipyards and have a prominent presence in these countries.

Due to the fact that the forecast points out that the implementation of LNG will be gradual, and that there won’t be enough demand in the beginning for the infrastructures of LNG supply to be economically viable, it is necessary to look for new developments that complement such demand and simultaneously guarantee the supply. It is in that respect that South European countries are developing global and strategic projects foreseeing the future demand (Bunker vessels that can supply both gas and oil, transformation of the auxiliary engines to use LNG, use of LNG in Port vessels, etc.).

At present, these countries have guaranteed the supply of LNG by truck, but for large vessels, such as container vessels, it is necessary to complement it with other ways of supply.


ESPO: The Port of Vigo is a comprehensive port of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). What has been the impact of being a TEN-T comprehensive port? Was the port involved in any TEN-T projects?

VIGO: Being a comprehensive TEN-T port gives the Port of Vigo the opportunity to access to funds and TEN-T projects, which are very beneficial mechanisms to improve the infrastructures, carry out studies related to innovation as well as to implement projects of innovation that improve the efficiency and sustainability of the maritime traffic that belongs to our port.

The Port of Vigo is currently involved in the TEN-T project “AtlanticaOptiMoS”, which involves the Motorways of the Sea between Vigo and Nantes (FR). It is our goal to improve the efficiency of such MoS and to conduct a study of the technologies for the desulphurization of the MoS, making this way of transport, with an already small environmental impact, a more ecologic MoS by means of implementation of LNG, scrubbers and cold ironing.

On the other hand, the Port of Vigo, in the last CEF call, submitted a project in collaboration with other ports to build an LNG Bunker vessel and a Cold Ironing system for RoRo vessels using LNG, so with this allowing the vessels to stop their auxiliary engines when berthed.

ESPO: ESPO is a partner of PORTOPIA, an FP7 project that aims to measure port performance. What is Vigo's approach for measuring the port’s performance?

VIGO: It is clear to us as an administration that it is important to do a transparency exercise , and because of this, the Port Authority publishes and annually sends to Puertos del Estado a Sustainability Report, containing multiple indicators that can measure not only the Port’s results from an economical point of view, but also from a social and environmental one as well.

It is for this reason that we consider the Portopia project as being very important, due to the fact that it can unify the indicators of all European ports, being the only management mechanism that guarantees knowing the evolution of continuous improvement of ports.

The approach of the Port of Vigo when measuring its performance is based on the evolution of data of the Port over the last years. In other words, although it is important to know the carbon footprint of the Port, for transparency and management, it is more important to know how it has evolved and if it has been improved. In the case of the Port of Vigo, the Carbon Footprint has decreased by 24.1 % in the last two years.

The Port of Vigo has been granted with PERS certification, lSO 14001 and EMAS certification, for which it has more than 50 environmental indicators, among which water consumption (which was reduced by 47% in the last year), electrical power consumption (which was reduced by 2.45%), valorization of waste (over a 72%), generation of renewables (increased by 19%), reduction of spills (27% decrease in the last three years), etc.


ESPO: The Prestige oil spill in 2002 affected the entire region. How has it impacted the port? Were there lessons learned?

VIGO: Prestige meant for the Port of Vigo, Spain and the European Union a change in environmental policies, from which environment and sustainability became of strategic importance. In the case of the Port of Vigo, the Department of Environment was created for the coordination of actions.

Although Prestige was a catastrophe that directly affected our Galician coast and particularly the Port of Vigo, where there is a National Park and five areas categorised as special environmental protection, it also led to the creation of new systems and strategies to combat pollution. A good example was the collaborative work with fishing vessels. Such collaboration significantly reduced the impact on the environment, due to the fact that the spills of hydrocarbon were collected before they reached the shores. In the case of the Port of Vigo this was of great importance, as it is provided with a fleet of over 200 vessels, who were able to collect 25 m3 per vessel on a daily basis. With this measure we were able to restrain the contamination in the Bay of Vigo. It only reached the coast the first day, the rest was collected at sea in the subsequent period.

On the other hand, there were some great lessons that we have learnt, like working with each type of hydrocarbon, improving the trajectory prediction system, or the realization of new control systems such as the use of infrared cameras in the Port of Vigo.

At present, the Galician coast is completely clean. Vigo has even obtained the status of excellence of quality of the water, according to the parameters of the Water Framework Directive (DMA).

The Prestige Oil spill was also important for the European Union, as it led to the creation of the Maritime Safety Agency EMSA, the implementation of the double hull, the vessel control systems in the Community waters, among others.

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