More punishment for polluters

10 December 2015

The Penalty unit values at Federal level and across a number of the Australian States have increased in 2015. The result is higher fines for pollution and other marine offences.

We have handled a number of cases in recent years where prosecutions and demands for security have been very high for minor and temporary pollution incidents. AMSA continues to police this area with an iron fist and ship owners, charterers and operators will do well to exercise extreme caution in Australian waters.

A majority of the States have increased their penalty unit value with effect from 1 July 2015 in accordance with their annual indexation adjustments. The State legislation and penalties will apply for a spill that is within, or migrates to within, 3 nautical miles of the coast. Beyond the 3 nautical mile limit the Commonwealth legislation will apply.

This year the Commonwealth has followed suit with the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Penalty Unit) Act 2015 (Cth) which amends the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) to increase the penalty unit to $180 (up from $170) and introduces indexation every three years in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.

The result is a maximum fine for a corporate Owner or Charterer of $18 million and for a master of $3.6 million. The discharge of oil into Commonwealth waters is a strict liability offence for Owners, Master and Charterers.

Click here for a table of maximum pollution fines across the States.

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