Oceans and seas are continuously polluted through various sources and different kinds of pollutants. Majority of the pollutant if not all, could be traced back to shipping operations, dumping at sea, sea-bed activities, land-based activities and the atmosphere.

Whilst large oil spills incidents have significantly reduced in number, size and frequency, potential threat of damage to environment and economic loss remain undiminished. This is primarily due to sheer number of large and very large oil tankers plus increase in size and bunker capacity of vessels other than oil tankers and arguably increase in total number of vessels currently in service coupled with ever present human-machine interface and as a result prevailing human error, therefore, pollution incidents whether cargo or bunkers shall continue to remain a distinct possibility for the foreseeable future.

In terms of local law, UAE Federal Law no. 24/1999 along with other applicable Federal Laws, ministerial decrees and Executive by-laws provide the regulatory framework for protecting, preserving, improving and developing the environment. Additionally, aforementioned laws are supplemented with Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi local legislations and Local Orders, as appropriate. Furthermore, UAE is, inter alia, signatory to Civil Liability Convention 92, as amended, Fund Protocol 92, LLMC Convention 76, London Convention 72, Intervention Convention 69, MARPOL 73/78 and Kuwait Regional Convention for Cooperation and Protection of Marine Environment78. However, UAE has yet to ratify following Conventions/Protocols (Conventions/Protocols status as per IMO published data as of 20 March 2018);

  • International Convention on Removal of Wrecks, 2007 (Nairobi Convention)
  • International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation, 1990 (OPRC 1990)
  • International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (Hong Kong Convention)
  • International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001
  • International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996, as amended (2010 HNS Convention)
  • International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships, 2001
  • International Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, London Convention Protocol 1996
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, MARPOL Protocol 1997 (Annex VI)
  • International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, Intervention Protocol 1973.
  • International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, Fund Protocol 2003.
  • Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, LLMC Protocol 1996.

With our experience and national and international regulatory frameworks, we at AWS can offer advisory and legal services in any and all disputes and or breach concerning ship source pollution, for further information/clarification regarding ship source pollution, please see the article entitled “Ship Source Pollution”.

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