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News

Web Alert: Update on Marine Pollution Fines in Turkey

17 January 2019

Further to the club’s web alert back in January 2017, Members are advised that Turkish pollution fine rates have been updated and radically increased since 2017. 

Pursuant to Article 20 of the Turkish Environmental Code no. 1983 (the Code), fines are imposed on ships for causing pollution in Turkish waters through discharge of petroleum products, dirty ballast, garbage and sewage into the sea. The quantum of fines is determined by a tariff that is revised annually.

The first update of the fines was effected on the 10 of December 2018, while a further update was published on 31 December 2018.  It is thought that the first update reflects an effort by the Turkish government to tackle down pollution incidents, while the second update represents the normal annual review of the fines, which were increased by a further 23.73%. As a result, fines are now 12 times the amount compared to last year mainly due to the devaluation of the Turkish lira and to maintain the fines’ deterrent effect.

Below are the revised fines for the various pollutants and different ship sizes and comparative tables of the two recent updates:

Pollution caused by petroleum products by tankers

Ship

Fines update on 10/12/2018

Fines after 31/12/2018 (effective from 01/01/2019 until 31/12/2019)

Ships up to and including 1,000gt

TRY 400 per gt (up from TRY 97.20 per gt)

TRY 494.92 per gt

Ships between 1,000 / 5,000gt

TRY 100 per gt on top of the above amount (up from TRY 24.24 per gt)

TRY 123.73 per gt on top of the above amount

Ships above 5,000gt

TRY 10 per gt on top of the above amount

TRY 12.37 per gt on top of the above amount


Pollution caused by dirty ballast water discharged into the sea by all ships

Ship

Fines update on 10/12/2018

Fines after 31/12/2018 (effective from 01/01/2019 until 31/12/2019)

Ships up to and including 1,000 gt

TRY 72.88 per gt (unamended from 2017)

TRY 90.17 per gt

Ships between 1,000 / 5,000gt

TRY 14.54 per gt - on top of the above amount

TRY 17.99 per gt on top of the above amount

Ships above 5,000gt

TRY 2.32 per gt - on top of the above amount

TRY 2.87 per gt on top of the above amount


Pollution caused by petroleum products as well as dirty ballast water discharged into the sea by all ships

Ships

Fines update on 10/12/2018

Fines after 31/12/2018 (effective from 01/01/2019 until 31/12/2019)

Ships up to and including 1,000gt

TRY 200 per gt (up from TRY 48.58 per gt)

TRY 247.46 per gt

Ships between 1,000 / 5,000gt

TRY 40 per gt - on top of the above amount

TRY 49.49 per gt on top of the above amount

Ships above 5,000gt

TRY 10 per gt - on top of the above amount

TRY 12.37 per gt on top of the above amount


Pollution caused by discharging of garbage and sewage into the sea by all ships

Ship

Fines update on 10/12/2018

Fines after 31/12/2018 (effective from 01/01/2019 until 31/12/2019)

Ships up to and including 1,000 gt

TRY 100 per gt (up from TRY 24.24 per gt)

TRY 123.73 per gt

Ships between 1,000 / 5,000gt

TRY 20 per gt - on top of the above amount

TRY 24.75 per gt on top of the above amount

Ships above 5,000gt

TRY 10 per gt - on top of the above amount

TRY 12.37 per gt on top of the above amount


Repeat offenders
As previously advised, it is worth noting that repeat offenders will face heavier fines. Detention of the ship is also likely. For a first repeat offence within a three-year period, the fine will be doubled, whereas for a second and any further repeat offence, the fine will be increased by 200%. Should a ship be able to clean up the pollution, only a third of the above rates will be imposed.

Most importantly, the fines are tripled if the liable party is an 'institution, organisation or a business', a term which encompasses ship-owning companies as well as companies that charter ships.

Prompt payment
Fines imposed by Turkish authorities due to alleged pollution must be paid or security must be put up immediately for the full amount, otherwise the ship may be arrested. If the fine is paid within 30 days, a 1/4 discount will be applicable to the final fine amount.

Objections
Objections against fines can be filed with the Administrative Court within 30 days of notification. Note that an objection, however, does not stop the collection of the fine. Turkish authorities do not need to substantiate their allegations and it is up to the ship to prove its innocence, making pollution fines in Turkey very difficult to challenge.

Criminal proceedings
Authorities that detect a pollution incident are under an obligation to report the incident to the Turkish public prosecutor immediately. Subsequently, the public prosecutor will commence a criminal investigation, which is usually followed by criminal proceedings brought against the Master of the ship. 

Other incidents
In the case of collisions, breakages, fires, explosions or similar incidents, the Harbour Master, in addition to the administrative pollution fines set out above, can impose a fine of up to TRY 5,000,000 for pollution caused by a ship that is sailing in Turkish territorial waters.

Security
Last, it is worth noting that even though the Turkish Environmental Code specifically mentions that P&I Club letters of undertaking (LoU) are an accepted form of security, the IG clubs have recently experienced demands for open-ended and anticipatory LoUs for minor pollution incidents in Turkey.

Conclusion
The number of incidents where ships are found liable and fined for marine pollution has been on the rise, a statistic that demonstrates the Turkish government’s tendency to implement its strict policy in the enforcement of the fines.

Shipowners have criticized both the excessive amount of the fines and the fact that fines are calculated solely on the tonnage of the ship without taking into account the severity of the pollution incident. This often results in higher fines for bigger ships even for minor pollution events.

In light of the above, a pollution incident in Turkish water, even one considered relatively insignificant, should be taken seriously and Members are advised to contact the club and/or our local P&I correspondents for immediate assistance. 

 

This article intends to provide general guidance on the issues arising. It is not intended to provide legal advice in relation to any specific query. If in doubt, The Standard Club is always on hand to assist. Members requiring further information on this topic should direct their enquiries to either their usual contact at the club, or to the author(s).