Turkey: Marine Pollution Fines

January 2019

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Club correspondents Ersoy Bilgehan of Istanbul have informed us that marine pollution fines underwent yet another update and were increased by 23.73% to be applicable for the year 2019. Ersoy Bilgehan say: 

By this further update, it became apparent that the previous increase entered into force on 10 December 2018 was not an annual update but a general revision of the fines. As a result of these two updates, fines imposed on vessels alleged to have polluted the marine environment has effectively been increased to more than 12 times of the amounts that were applicable last year. To elaborate: 

1. With the first increase published on 10 December 2018, fines for categories 1, 3, and 4 were increased to 4 times the previous amount. Additionally, a new rule was introduced to the effect that if the ship is owned by a company (as opposed to a person), the fine is imposed 3-fold. Since all trading vessels are owned by a shipowning company, it can be said that the fines were increased to 12 times the previous amounts. 

2. Fines are annually adjusted for inflation at the end of every year to be effective in the coming year. This rate of increase has been determined by the government as 23.73% and the fines were increased again at this rate by a further update published on 31 December 2018.  

We have observed increased vigilance of environmental authorities in enforcing these fines over the past few weeks despite widespread criticism from owners and P&I clubs. The points of criticism are mainly based on two aspects: (i) the fines being excessive and (ii) the fines being calculated solely on the tonnage of the vessel and the severity of the pollution is not taken into account which results in a high-tonnage vessel causing only a minor grey-water discharge to be levied with a higher fine compared to a much smaller vessel that spilled a large amount of oil. It remains to be seen how the government will react to such well-founded criticism. 

Please refer to news alert on the further increase of marine pollution fines by following this link and feel free to share this with your colleagues and members. 

The current situation requires the exercise of extra care during vessels’ period of stay in Turkish ports and owners are advised to immediately consult the Club when faced with allegations of pollution in order to ensure the swift handling of the procedures with the authorities.