Prestige disaster may lead to criminal sanctions for polluting ships

On 4 November, the Parliament Transport committee gave its approval to criminal sanctions for ships that pollute the oceans.

On 4 November, members of the Parliament's transport committee adopted a report drafted by Peter Pex (EPP-ED, Netherlands) on the draft directive on pollution from ships and criminalisation of pollution offences. The directive is designed to prevent environmental disasters similar to the spill from the Prestige oil tanker on 19 November 2002. It will integrate the international rules on ship-source pollution (MARPOL Convention) into Community law.

The committee stressed that illegal pollution by ships, in particular deliberate discharges at sea of waste and cargo residues (such as oil and chemicals) must be made a punishable offence. It also said that penalties should be imposed on whoever is deemed responsible - whether it be the master, owner, operator or charterer of a ship or even a classification society (ship inspection body).

In a press statement on 6 November, WWF warned that it was crucially important to strengthen maritime safety legislation to minimise the risk of another disaster at sea. In a critical new report called "The Prestige - one year on, a continuing disaster", WWF points out that the Prestige oil spill crisis is not over.


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