MARPOL Enforcement Shifting Focus to Annex VI in the United States

Ship Management International

MARPOL enforcement cases in the US historically have involved violations of Annex I, such as oily water separator bypasses and falsified oil record books (ORBs), coupled with post-incident misconduct by crew members, such as destroying/altering records or lying to the US Coast Guard (USCG). While these cases are likely to continue (as they have for three decades), we also expect enforcement authorities to target Annex VI violations.

The US brought the first Annex VI criminal case in 2019. That case is likely to be a bellwether, particularly now that the worldwide sulphur cap of 0.50% and carriage ban are in effect. Ship owners/operators must ensure compliance with Annex VI, which includes comprehensive training for crew on policies, procedures, and recordkeeping requirements, to avoid becoming a target during the next US port call.

There is a wide range of penalties for violations of Annex VI, ranging from letters of warning, with no penalty; to notices of violation, with penalties up to $10,000; to civil penalties up to $74,552 per violation; to criminal enforcement, which can result in substantial fines, a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan, and even imprisonment.

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“MARPOL Enforcement Shifting Focus to Annex VI in the United States,” by Jeanne M. Grasso and Kierstan L. Carlson was published in the March/April 2020 edition of Ship Management International. Reprinted with permission.