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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Criminalisation: shipping’s concern

'Criminalisation; Developments in EU, Canada and other locations' was the theme of a presentation give by INTERTANKO MD Dr Peter Swift at the International Salvage Union Associate Members’ Day conference on 8 March 2006. 

Swift said that INTERTANKO and others in the maritime community had for many years taken every opportunity to highlight the unfair treatment that is frequently meted out to seafarers, especially after an unfortunate accident, and also the common infringement of their basic human rights. “However,” he continued, “in addition to these concerns the shipping industries see much more to be concerned about, namely that this trend and the associated measures, which are often driven by political expediency, may well be counterproductive and even detrimental to society’s longer-term interests. It is therefore important that the shipping industries raise these concerns and take appropriate means to debate and counter the negative aspects of increasing criminalisation within the maritime world.” 

He spoke in particular of the negative effects of this “trend to criminalisation” on open and frank reporting, the willingness of salvors to attend the more serious pollution accidents, proper casualty investigation, crew morale and the ability to recruit and retain good staff – citing hard rather than just anecdotal evidence for industry’s concerns.  

In respect of penal sanctions for ship-sourced pollution Swift highlighted INTERTANKO’s position: 

  • It strongly objects to criminalising accidental oil pollution and to treating seafarers as criminals.

·         There must be absolute clarity in the definition of any criminal offence of pollution sourced from a ship, and that this should be in accordance with international law.

·         Any penalties imposed on someone found guilty of such an offence must be proportionate. There should also be parity with any penalties imposed for pollution from land-based sources.

·         Any suspects must be treated fairly, impartially and in accordance with international law on human rights.

·         INTERTANKO also requests coastal states to comply with their existing treaty law obligations to provide adequate, affordable, oil waste reception facilities.

·         Further, in order to safeguard the lives of seafarers and the marine environment, INTERTANKO urges coastal states to ensure proper contingency plans are put in place so that adequate assistance and if necessary a place of refuge can be made available to a ship in difficulties.

He said that industry’s stance and speaking out on their concerns was “not about confrontation – but about reality”. 

The text of Swift’s presentation can be found on the INTERTANKO web site at: 

Contact: Peter Swift