Double pollution fine in Turkish ports?

As a result of a number of serious oil spills over the past year, the Turkish Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication recently tightened the Environment Regulation applicable to all Turkish Ports.

Consequently, we would like to bring two amendments to your attention:

The first amendment can be found in Article 13. This Article requires tankers and vessels (500 GT and larger) carrying all types of dangerous goods; vessels (1000 GT and larger) flying under Turkish Flag; foreign flagged commercial and private yachts (1000 GT and above) to engage a pilot whilst berthing alongside and departing from coastal facilities and fish farms. The words and fish farms have been added to the new regulation.

However, the most noteworthy amendment to the Regulation is regarding the pollution fines (Article 39). In addition to the ‘usual’ fine for pollution based on the Environment Code, the Harbor Master, in whose jurisdiction the incident/pollution takes place, is now entitled to impose a secondary fine that could amount up to 5 million Turkish liras ($ 1.4 million). Every instance of pollution of the marine environment by oil or other noxious substances as defined by Code 5312 could be subject to this administrative discretionary fine.

A couple of months have passed since this legislation entered into force and some incidents have taken place since. However, there are still a lot of uncertainties in respect of the exact criteria for liability, the grounds for determining the amount of the fine and whether this amendment allows for dual penalty of the same breach. It therefore remains to be seen whether Article 39 will be upheld by the Turkish Courts and, if so, to which extent. We will keep you informed on the jurisprudential developments in this respect.

If you have any questions in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact our Client Services Desk: SupportDesk@msamlin.com