The Role of the International Maritime Organization in the Prevention of Illegal Oil Pollution from Ships: North Sea Special Status Area
Principles and standards corresponding to the prevention and control of vessel-source marine pollution are one of the most amply regulated areas of public international law. Vessel-source pollution, or in more restricted terms illegal oil pollution from ships, is not a new phenomenon. Although there seems to exist far-reaching regulations governing compensation for natural resource injury con- sequential to an oil spill, the European Union (EU) has apparently advanced a rather controversial position on this subject. International Maritime Organization (IMO) acknowledges the rights of victims of illegal oil pollution and has marked out specific maritime zones of the world that are in need of special attention. The North Sea, as such, falls within the territory of respective states of the EU. Major maritime incidents including illegal discharges of oil by Flag States in the pristine waters of the North Sea have led EU to believe that injury to natural resources per se and their economic valuation as laid down by IMO is more contentious then the current reality. Hence, the Special Status Areas (SSA) of the North Sea are under the disarray influence of legal contradiction. The assessment of injury to natural resources embraces complex questions surrounding both the assessment of injury to natural resources and then the award of appropriate compensatory damages. To what length can IMO assess this damage and prescribe a successful indemnification through the tools of civil liability and compensation regime for a region that has always adopted unilateral measures has left a question mark on the role of IMO. This endeavors to discuss the role of IMO in terms of the North Sea SSA and seeks to examine both the civil liability and criminal liability regimes for injury to natural resources consequential to an illegal oil discharge under both international law and the EU regional law. In essence, the article investigates the adequacy of the international system in compensating for natural resource injury and compares this to the corresponding, more compensatory, EU Directive approach.
Civil liability, Criminal liability, Directive 2005/35/EC, International Maritime Organization, MARPOL 73/78, North Sea, Special Status Area
Environmental Law | International and Area Studies | Law of the Sea