ABS Consulting

Maritime environmental management systems

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Awareness of the potential for water pollution and its prevention is essential in controlling it. For shipping companies, implementing an environmental management system (EMS) could be the most important preventative measure taken, and the cost of not acting could be detrimental. Failure to comply with the provisions of international environmental protection laws (i.e. MARPOL) and national laws (i.e. the U.S. Clean Water Act) can result in massive fines and possible jail terms. Increased vigilance by the European Union, the U.S. Coast Guard and many Port State Authorities has led to several recent high-profile prosecutions of shipping companies and individuals. In the United States, the Clean Water Act was enacted to protect U.S. waters and establishes a national policy that there should be no discharges of oil or hazardous substances into or upon the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines. The act creates a comprehensive scheme of prohibitions, reporting requirements, penalties and clean-up obligations to implement this policy. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is committed to protecting the environment and natural resources. Since 1998, the DOJ’s Environmental Crimes Section imposed almost $140 million in penalties and obtained sentences totaling 25 years of jail time for polluters violating the Clean Water and Oil Pollution Acts.

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