INTERTANKO launches PhD Fellowship in Marine Pollution Law at World Maritime University.
INTERTANKO is to fund a three-year PhD study into the emerging law and policy on criminal liability for marine pollution and the effects of this on seafarers. INTERTANKO will be working with the World Maritime University (WMU) and with the individual student chosen to undertake this important work. INTERTANKO’s Council has identified criminalisation as a high priority item for the INTERTANKO Work Plan. In addressing this issue, INTERTANKO’s Insurance and Legal Committee has sought to study emerging cases, case law and national, regional and international law which supports this ‘blame culture’ trend.
“It is this blame culture that has led to the criminalisation of our seafarers simply for doing their job,” says Ken Marshall, Chairman of INTERTANKO’s Insurance and Legal Committee. “We believe that this work will be a tangible benefit to our Members and indeed to seafarers and the whole shipping industry worldwide.” It is to assist this study that INTERTANKO is establishing from January 2012 its PhD Fellowship in Marine Pollution Law at the World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden.
“INTERTANKO has taken every opportunity to highlight the unfair treatment that is frequently meted out to seafarers after an unfortunate accident,” says Joe Angelo, INTERTANKO’s Managing Director. “The association is keen to bring to an end the common infringement of seafarers’ basic human rights.” The Fellowship programme will research into the growing trend of criminalising seafarers in marine pollution incidents. By conducting a comprehensive analysis of existing judicial decisions relating to marine pollution incidents, it will look at whether such criminal proceedings are in compliance with existing international law. In particular it will examine the notion of criminal liability in marine pollution law, and the implementation of international conventions (UNCLOS, MARPOL) under domestic laws and EU law.
“Seafarer welfare has always been a matter of prime concern in the development and delivery of the WMU curriculum at the level of Master's degree,” says Proshanto K. Mukherjee, Professor of Maritime Law and Policy, Former Vice President-Research and Director of Doctoral Programmes at World Maritime University. “WMU therefore welcomes this fellowship opportunity generously provided by INTERTANKO in pursuit of intensive analysis of the criminalisation of seafarers through doctoral research at this University.”
A copy of the WMU announcement and details for applicants can be found here. Further information about the WMU can be found here www.wmu.se
Over the last few years, the industry has witnessed an upward trend in the criminalisation of innocent seafarers, with a rush to brand accidental pollution as a criminal act. In the criminal investigations that follow, prosecutors often look at the seriousness of the consequences, rather than the actual conduct of the individual concerned. Much of this attitude has been in response to a society that has become increasingly intolerant of environmental damage. Public outrage at the consequences of an oil spill can often have an effect on a state’s decision to prosecute a seafarer, on its reluctance to repatriate, and on the bringing of charges that are often contrived or difficult to understand.
High profile cases of concern have included the Hebei Spirit and the Prestige. Further legislation, e.g. the EU Directive on Ship Source Pollution (challenged by an industry coalition led by INTERTANKO in the European Court of Justice) has led to an even greater uncertain fate for seafarers caught up in accidental pollution.
Michele White, General Counsel, INTERTANKO
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