Masters criminal liability for marine pollution in Ukraine

Violations of environmental laws and the failure of environmental regulations is extremely dangerous, that is why the law of Ukraine for these offenses prescribes disciplinary, economic, administrative and criminal liability, depending on the fault, environmental risk, the degree of environmental hazards of the persons acts.

The greatest danger is represented by the pollution of the sea in the result of the violation of the international maritime safety rules that is constituted in crime under Art. 243 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Implementation of the crime is possible in three ways:

  • Violation of special regulations, which caused a pollution of the sea and created a danger to life and health of people or other living resources of the sea or could interfere with legitimate uses of the sea;
  • Illegal dumping or disposal of hazardous substances, materials and wastes;
  • Failure of notification about dropping that was prepared or carried out as a result of extreme urgency, or the unavoidable loss of hazardous substances and mixtures containing such substances in excess of the norms, and other substances, in case it caused a danger to the life or health of people or living resources of the sea or could damage zones of treatment and rest , or interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea.

The list of harmful, toxic substances and materials, the degree of harmful concentration are defined in the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution, which on the 4th of February, 1994 was ratified by the order № 39339-12 of Verkhovna Rada (legislative body) of Ukraine. In accordance with the current criminal legislation of Ukraine from the crew the responsibility for this crime is born by the Masters of vessels or/and workers who directly operate the system, settings and tools during operations with hazardous substances or wastes (engineers, sailors etc.).
The sanctions of the Art. 243 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine provide various forms of responsibility for this offense:

  • A fine from 1700 UAH (150 USD) to 13 600 UAH (1,200 USD);
  • Prohibition to hold certain positions for up to five years;
  • Restriction of freedom for up to three years;
  • Imprisonment for up to five years (this sanction is foreseen in case if marine pollution caused death or disease of people, the mass destruction of flora and fauna, or other serious consequences).

It should be noted that in practice, the Ukrainian authorities usually bring masters to the administrative responsibility for marine pollution. However, it is often happens when against the master the criminal proceedings are brought in order to put the additional pressure on the Owners in respect of the compensation payment for damage.

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