MARPOL violations & Oily Water Separators - again


Published: 16 February 2009

Prosecution of shipowners for breaches of MARPOL continues to be a problem for the industry.  The most recent development comes in the form of a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on 20 January 2009 which confirms the wide jurisdiction which US Courts have over foreign flag vessels even if no discharge has taken place and no incorrect entries have been made in US waters.  The US Courts will not accept an argument by the shipowners that this is a matter to be determined by the flag state and it appears that a prosecution can be based upon production of an Oily Record Book which contains inaccurate entries even if those entries have been made out of the jurisdiction.

Members are referred to a recent Maritime Alert issued by the US law firm Holland & Knight for more information. As Holland & Knight comment, the decision “might well lead to more frequent prosecutions against foreign-flagged vessels that arrive in U.S. with falsified records on board. It will be increasingly important for shipowners and managers to be vigilant in enforcing their environmental compliance programs, identifying and correcting improper discharge practices, and ensuring that a vessel’s required records are accurate and verifiable.”

Members are referred to the Circular sent out by International Group Clubs in June 2005 which is equally applicable today and to the Guidance on the Use of Oily Water Separators issued by leading shipping industry organisations.