Turkey: New and increased pollution fines


Published: 8 April 2013

Members are advised that there are now significant and increased fines which may be imposed on a vessel which contravenes Turkish anti-pollution regulations.

By way of background, Members will be aware of the particularly sensitive area of the Turkish straits, which present a challenge for navigation and the potential for a major accident is significant unless due care is taken.

The Bosporus is 17 miles long, at times very narrow and with winding waterways that cut through Istanbul, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Amongst the major straits of the world, it is amongst the narrowest, constricting to a mere 698 meters between shores at a point.

If an accident happen were to happen in this area, speed of response would be paramount. In order to ensure that the appropriate response is put in place, and to ensure the right resources are brought in to deal with any pollution incident, the Association urges Members to notify any incident without delay. Equally Masters are reminded that immediate assistance from local Correspondents should be sought, even if the incident is minor, as a small spill can still have significant consequences.

For smaller incidents, and especially grey water pollution which our Correspondents see most often, local authorities stringently monitor sensitive areas, including sending out patrols with small crafts both day and night. Should a pollution incident, even a small one, be spotted then stringent action will quickly be taken by local authorities.

Even an innocent member can suffer delays. If a ship has not been involved in a pollution incident but happens to be in an area close to other ship(s) and the source of pollution has not been identified, that may lead to so fuel/ballast water etc samples to be taken from all ships for analysis. All vessels having to await the outcome and identification of the infringing party.

Once an offence has been established and the source identified, the vessel will be fined.

There are several important points to note:

  • Usually authorities require cash payment and it may not always be possible to raise a Bank Guarantee (which in itself could entail a delay of several days)
  • There is a procedure that if the fine is paid within a certain time limit, then a reduction may be achieved
  • The fine must be paid regardless of whether an appeal will be lodged and its payment does not affect the right to appeal. Appeals should be lodged at the Administrative Court within 30 days.
  • In cases when there is suspected pollution with a pollutant that cannot be established easily by eye so needs to be verified by lab analysis, the ship may be allowed to sail depending on negotiations with the local authorities over security for a later fine.
  • Vessels' Masters are usually called upon by the authorities to give statements in cases of alleged pollution as part of the formal investigation proceedings. Should there be suspicions of wilful or a deliberate act causing pollution, then criminal proceedings will be started against the Master.

When it comes to the level of fines these are calculated on the basis of vessel's size.

At the beginning of each year, the Authorities issue the scale/basis upon which fines are calculated (this year's scale is attached herewith). Fines are greater for repeat offenders and in the case of discharge of dangerous products, the fine is 10 times the amount payable for petrol and petroleum derivatives.

The level of sea pollution fines scale is updated every January and this year's tariff is attached herewith for your reference.

Members are reminded to ensure that great care is taken, whether in Turkey, or in other jurisdictions, to ensure that the vessel is always in compliance with local anti-pollution rules. The trend is for more frequent checks, stricter enforcement and harsher penalties, globally. Staying on the right side of the law ensures Members avoid large fines, significant delays, criminal prosecutions and negative reputational impact - as publicity is an increasing likelihood - too.

This article was prepared with the kind assistance of Captain Kerem Türkmen, of Kalimbassieris Maritime Ltd.