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December 21, 2023

Major National And International Regulations On The Prevention Of Marine Pollution

Marine pollution is an important and current problem that threatens the whole world. The fact that pollution in the seas does not depend on a certain region but moves rapidly, that pollution occurring in the territorial waters of a country pollutes the open seas or the territorial waters of another country, and especially that accidents occurring during the transportation of oil by sea have emerged as a very important problem in international maritime law, and that the pollution in the seas threatens the continuation of the economic gains obtained by all countries from the seas and human health, have revealed the necessity of regulations regarding the solution in the national and international environment. The majority of the regulations regarding the solution of marine pollution problem have been developed in order to regulate the principles of prevention of marine pollution and compensation for damages.

International Regulations on Prevention of Marine Pollution

The basis of the regulations on the protection of marine pollution and, in this context, marine pollution liability and compensation was laid with the international agreements adopted under the leadership of the International Maritime Organization (“IMO“) as a result of the large-scale marine pollution caused by the sinking of the Torrey Canyon supertanker with a capacity of 120,000 tons of oil off the coast of England in 1967. In this context, the International Convention on Civil Liability for Damage Arising from Oil Pollution (“CLC 69“) and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (“FUND 71“) Agreements were prepared in order to determine a single system for liability and compensation in the international arena in relation to environmental pollution, and the tanker registered in the registry of a country that is a party to the CLC 69 Convention was deemed to be fully liable for pollution damage caused by a possible spill or spill. The 1954 Convention for the Prevention of Oil Pollution (“OILPOIL 1954“) is the first important Convention designed to mitigate the effects of oil pollution. The 1969 amendment to OILPOIL 1954 introduced new regulations to prevent the discharge of oil and its derivatives into the sea, and the 1971 amendments aimed to reduce the amount of oil and its derivatives that could leak into the sea in the event of a collision or grounding by limiting the size of the tanks carrying these substances in tankers carrying oil and its derivatives.

In 1973, the “International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (“MARPOL“)”, the most detailed and most important international agreement on the prevention of marine pollution, was adopted. In addition to marine pollution caused by oil, MARPOL also regulates pollution caused by other harmful substances such as chemicals, garbage and sewage. MARPOL prohibits the discharge of oil and petroleum mixtures into the sea for pollution control during the operation of ships and requires ships to have oil discharge monitoring and control systems and oil water treatment devices, as well as tanks for oil wastes, segregated ballast tanks and clean ballast tanks.

In 1990, IMO adopted the International Convention on Maritime Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (“OPRC“) in order to provide all measures for States Parties to respond individually or jointly to major pollution incidents such as tanker accidents. This Convention also imposes an “obligation to prepare an emergency plan” on States Parties in case of pollution.

In order to ensure the management of all wastes, including hazardous wastes, in harmony with the environment, to provide waste disposal facilities, to ensure that the necessary measures are taken to minimize the negative effects of pollution, to cooperate with the Contracting States and international organizations in this context, to appoint competent authorities to ensure the implementation of the Convention, The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (“BASEL 1989”), which regulates obligations such as notifying the occurrence of incidents that pose a danger to human health or living beings and organizing periodic conferences to ensure the exchange of information, was signed and entered into force in 1989.

Regulations in Turkish Law on Prevention of Marine Pollution

In the face of international regulations, necessary measures have started to be taken in our national law regarding the protection of the marine environment. The right to live in a healthy environment has been constitutionally guaranteed in Article 56 of the 1982 Constitution and the Environmental Law No. 2872 has outlined the framework of the obligation outlined in general terms and sanctions to be imposed in case of failure to comply with this obligation. Law No. 5312 on the Principles of Emergency Response and Compensation of Damages in the Pollution of the Marine Environment by Oil and Other Harmful Substances aims to regulate two different issues such as the principles of emergency response in pollution incidents and the principles of compensation of damages due to pollution, which regulates the obligation to prevent environmental pollution, competent authorities and legal compensation procedure in Turkish Law in the light of the regulations made in international law, and regulations have been introduced in parallel with the provisions of the Turkish Commercial Code and international conventions regarding compensation. The 1975 Agreement on the Prevention of Marine Pollution from the Dumping of Wastes and Other Substances into the Sea regulates globally which wastes and all other wastes can be dumped into the sea by ships and platforms, in which area and to what extent, and which wastes are prohibited from being dumped into the sea. In order to comply with this agreement and implement the regulations, the Regulation on the Control of Hazardous Wastes was adopted and entered into force in Turkey. In addition, the IMO’s International Maritime Dangerous Goods Carriage Code, which was prepared to ensure that the transportation and shipment of dangerous cargoes is carried out with the safest means and with the utmost care, thus preventing accidents, pollution of other cargoes and environmental pollution due to accidents, is also implemented in Turkey with the Regulation on the Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Merchant Ships.


In order to protect the seas and marine life and to ensure the sustainability of the economic benefits of the seas, many national and international regulations have been made in order to prevent marine pollution and to take measures to eliminate the damages caused by pollution. These regulations are primarily in the form of administrative inspections and sanctions aimed at preventing pollution by taking the necessary measures and ensuring compliance with the measures. Furthermore, following the occurrence of pollution, it has found a legal basis in a way to increase the deterrence of actions that will cause marine pollution with regulations regarding the compensation of damages arising from pollution by those responsible.


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