Pollution Case Sets Precedent, says MCA – Fishupdate.com

Pollution Case Sets Precedent, says MCA Fishing Monthly Published:  24 July, 2002

THE conviction of the owner of a French fishing vessel for causing oil pollution in the English Channel has set an important legal precedent, according to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The agency said the case highlighted how third parties could now be held responsible for spills.

The Captain and owner of the fishing trawler St Jacques II, Loic Margolle, was found guilty on Monday in a magistrate court of slamming his ship into a Maltese oil tanker in March of last year.

The clash ripped a hole into the tanker, The Gudermes, spilling 3.5 tonnes of heavy fuel oil into the ocean.

Margolle pleaded guilty and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months after already being heavily fined in France for the incident, the UK agency said.

“Effectively what this case does is it makes it an offence to put any oil into the sea, and if the owner or master of the vessel is found to be responsible they can be prosecuted,” the agency’s enforcement officer Rob Johnson said.

“This now means that we can look at the role of a third party in an incident of this type as we weren’t able to do before,” he said. “In the past the legal arguments hadn’t been tested.”

The Channel Magistrates Court had heard how the fishing trawler was moving to fishing grounds off the Thames Estuary from Boulogne when it sailed the wrong way up a shipping lane.