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Environmental Marine Pollution Fines Revised For 2022

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Pursuant to Article 20 of the Turkish Environmental Code no.
2872 (the “Code”), fines are imposed on vessels for
causing pollution in Turkish waters through discharge of petroleum
products, dirty ballast, garbage and sewage into the sea. Different
from the major increase imposed in December
, this is merely an adjustment of the fines for
inflation that takes place every year.

The tariff below contains the increased (at the rate of 36.20%)
fines for the year 2022 that are applicable as of 1 January

I. Tariff

1. Petrol and petroleum products discharged by

Up to 1,000 (inclusive) gross tons (GT) TRY 901.56 per GT (up from TRY 661.94 per GT)
Between 1,000 and 5,000 (inclusive) GT An additional TRY 225.40 per GT (up from TRY 165.49 per
Over 5,000 GT An additional TRY 22.53 TRY per GT (up from TRY 16.54 per

2. Dirty ballast discharged by tankers:

Up to 1,000 (inclusive) GT TRY 164.26 per GT (up from TRY 120.60 per GT)
Between 1,000 and 5,000 (inclusive) GT An additional TRY 32.77 per GT (up from TRY 24.06 per GT)
Over 5,000 GT An additional TRY 5.20 per GT (up from TRY 3.82 per GT)

3. Petrol/petroleum products and dirty ballast discharged
by vessels or any other marine vehicles:

Up to 1,000 (inclusive) GT TRY 450.78 per GT (up from TRY 330.97 per GT)
Between 1,000 and 5,000 (inclusive) GT An additional TRY 90.16 per GT (up from TRY 66.20 per GT)
Over 5,000 GT An additional TRY 22.53 per GT (up from TRY 16.54 per GT)

4. Garbage and sewage discharged by vessels or any other
marine vehicles:

Up to 1,000 (inclusive) GT TRY 225.40 per GT (up from TRY 165.49 per GT)
Between 1,000 and 5,000 (inclusive) GT An additional TRY 45.08 per GT (up from TRY 33.10 per GT)
Over 5,000 GT An additional TRY 22.53 per GT (up from TRY 16.54 per GT)

II. Heavier Fines in Qualified Incidents

It is noteworthy that vessels discharging hazardous substances
shall face fines 10 fold those stipulated for petroleum products in
tariff 1 and 3 above. Vessels which pollute the environment
repeatedly shall also face heavier fines: first recurrence within 3
years will lead to the doubling of the fine whereas the second and
further recurrences will lead to a 200% increase. On the other
hand, if the vessel manages to remove the pollution by her own
means, only 1/3 of the above rates are imposed.

An amendment introduced in 2018 is still in place which
stipulates that the fines set out above shall be applicable
three-fold if the liable party is an “institution,
organisation or a business”. This covers ship-owning companies
and companies that charter ships.

In order to give our readers an idea of the severity of the
fines, at the current rates, a 10,000 GT general cargo vessel
-owned expectedly by a “company”- faced with an
allegation of illegal discharge of dirty ballast would be levied
with a fine of TRY 2,772,210.00 which corresponds as per the
current USD/TRY exchange rate to an amount exceeding USD

III. Payment and Objection

The fines issued by the authorities due to an alleged pollution
must be paid or sufficient and suitable security must be put up
immediately and in full. Otherwise the vessel is likely to be
detained. If the fine is paid within 30 days, a 1/4 discount
becomes applicable.

Objections to fines can be filed with the Administrative Court
within 30 days of notification. It should be noted that an
objection does not stop the collection of the fine. Therefore, the
recommended course of action is to pay the fine within 30 days
benefitting from the 1/4 discount and then filing an objection with
the Administrative Court if there are sufficient grounds to do so.
We must point out that challenging pollution fines may be difficult
because the applicable legislation provides for a caveat which, in
practice, allows the authorities to impose fines without verifying
the existence of the pollution with sufficient evidence.

Even though authorities in principle accept P&I Club letters
of undertaking to grant clearance to the vessel to sail, in
practice, it may be difficult to meet the authorities’ demands
in terms of the wording of the letters of undertaking as each
Harbour Master implements different criteria. Also to note is that
the wording of the letter of undertaking would most likely be
different from wordings that are ordinarily used in the sense that
it would be required to contain a direct undertaking to pay the
fine within a relatively short period of time, e.g. 15 or 30 days,
as opposed to the Club’s payment obligation being triggered by
a finalized judgment or award. In this respect, it is of utmost
importance to exercise extra care during the period of stay in
Turkish ports and owners and their P&I Clubs/insurers are
advised to immediately consult their correspondents and experienced
shipping lawyers when faced with an allegation of marine pollution
to ensure the swift handling of the procedures with the

IV. Criminal Charges and Other Additional Fines

Authorities that detect a pollution incident are under an
obligation to report the incident to the public prosecutor
immediately. The public prosecutor will then commence a criminal
investigation into the incident which is usually followed by
criminal proceedings brought against the master of the vessel.

In addition to the administrative pollution fines set out in the
tariff above, the Harbour Master may also impose a fine of up to
TRY 5,000,000 for pollution caused by a vessel navigating in
Turkish territorial waters in circumstances that require emergency
intervention due to collisions, breakdown, fires, explosions or
similar incidents. This type of fine is different from the tonnage
based tariff above since the fine to be imposed by Harbour Masters
is not subject to a tariff and the Harbour Master has total
discretion in determining the quantum of the fine up to the TRY
5,000,000 limit.

In recent years, we have seen stricter measures employed by the
authorities in the application of environmental protection measures
against pollution. At ErsoyBilgehan, with our vast experience in
environmental law and pollution incidents, we advise and represent
our clients in objections against administrative fines as well as
in criminal proceedings in relation to the same.

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