EU Lawmakers Tighten Regulations against Marine Pollution

EU Lawmakers Tighten Regulations against Marine Pollution

In a concerted effort to curb marine pollution, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and EU governments have agreed upon stringent measures, enhancing accountability for ship owners and operators. The accord, finalized in Brussels on February 15th, encompasses a range of provisions aimed at preventing environmental degradation in European waters. According to EuroNews, EU Lawmakers Tighten Regulations to Combat Marine Pollution.

One of the pivotal aspects of the agreement is the expansion of substances prohibited from discharge by ships, now including sewage, garbage, and residues from exhaust scrubbers. MEP Sara Cerdas of Portugal emphasized that the new regulations introduce criminal sanctions for vessels found guilty of pollution crimes, aligning EU law more closely with international obligations.

The issue of plastic pellet pollution gained urgency following an incident earlier this year, wherein millions of pellets washed ashore on Spanish beaches due to container spillage from a cargo ship during adverse weather conditions.

The revised Ship-Source Pollution Directive, proposed by the European Commission in June of the previous year, aims to harmonize EU maritime laws with global regulations, simplify reporting procedures, and prevent regulatory disparities among EU member states.

Under the new rules, national governments are obligated to impose deterrent fines on violators, in accordance with criminal sanctions outlined in recent EU environmental crime legislation.

MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu of Romania stressed the importance of penalties reflecting the severity of offenses to serve as effective deterrents. He emphasized the necessity of leveraging advanced technologies, such as satellite monitoring and on-site inspections, to combat illegal discharges effectively.

The adoption of satellite monitoring received praise from Seas at Risk, an environmental NGO, which underscored the alignment of the revisions with MARPOL, a global treaty targeting marine pollution from ships.

The European Shippers’ Council (ESC), representing cargo carriers, welcomed the political agreement, emphasizing the significance of transparent tools to identify pollution incidents. ESC’s secretary-general, Godfried Smit, highlighted the pivotal role of CleanSeaNet, the European Maritime Safety Agency’s satellite system, in providing crucial data for monitoring pollution incidents.

The agreement is pending formal endorsement by the EU Council and Parliament before taking effect, marking a significant step forward in the collective effort to safeguard marine ecosystems from pollution.


Source EuroNews

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