Ireland plans tougher marine spill rules

Government proposes increased compensation for pollution incidents, preventive measures

The Irish government has proposed "tough" new legislation to prevent marine pollution incidents by hazardous substances and secure more compensation for coastal users if they happen. A draft law released by the marine ministry on Wednesday also bids to make compensation rules apply up to 200 nautical miles from the shore instead of 12 miles as now.

Marine minister Frank Fahey welcomed the plans, which would increase the level of compensation that shipowners could be obliged to provide from euros 248m (I£195m) to euros 444m. The "deterrent effect" this would provide would ensure "maximum protection for our seas and the livelihoods of our coastal communities," he said. Shipowners would be required to have insurance to cover liabilities and compensation could also be won to pay for spill preparations whether or not they happened, the minister added.

The law specifically applies to shippers of hazardous substances rather than all owners and is intended to implement the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) convention on liability and compensation for damage in connection with the carriage of hazardous and noxious substances at sea, known as the HNS convention. It will also give effect to a 1996 protocol under the IMO convention on limitation of liability for maritime claims, which provides for higher levels for compensation than under the HNS convention.

Follow Up:
Irish marine ministry, tel: +353 1 678 5444.

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