Traditionally linked to the Criminalisation of Seafarers after accidental pollution, this issue now encompasses other areas where shipowners and seafarers can be adversely affected such as “Places of Refuge”, Amici Curiae measures, other collective legal interventions, Port State Control (PSC) control corruption and national anti-bribery laws. 

 Firstly considering “Accidental Pollution”, responsible shipowners work very hard to meet all applicable regulations such as IMO’s MARPOL Convention. Deliberate pollution is indefensible but it should be noted that pollution from ships is in long-term decline as the following figures from Industry body, ITOPF (, confirms although these figures refer to tankers and similar vessels only


Quantity (tonnes)











Criminalisation of seafarers is viewed as one of the four principle Round Table issues kept under regular review by the associations.

Historically, INTERCARGO has always voiced its opposition to the criminalisation of seafarers for Accidental Pollution, including adding its name in 2010 to a Round Table paper in support of the “Hebei Spirit” seafarers.  It is iniquitous that seafarers can be arrested as a precautionary measure, contrary to natural justice. Shipping Associations such as INTERCARGO urge all Governments to implement the measures contained in the ILO-IMO Guidelines on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the event of a Maritime Accident” (Resolution LEG 3 (91) adopted on 27 April 2006). 

In terms of its support for IMO and the cause of consistent, global regulations, INTERCARGO added its support in 2009 to a group of concerned shipping interests seeking clarification of intent of the 2005 European Union Ship Source Pollution Directive. This then led to a ruling made by the European Court of Justice concerning the overlap between IMO’s MARPOL Convention and regional or national regulations implicit in the EU Directive, demonstrating that owners and their associations can leverage support by acting together in support of their seafarers.

Round Table international shipping associations including INTERCARGO have a unified position on Fair Treatment of Seafarers.

Unfair treatment of seafarers (e.g. prolonged detention/imprisonment) by port/coastal States following maritime accidents not only affects the seafarers concerned but has a wider impact on the entire industry and ultimately on the efficient and effective service of world trade. Specifically, unfair treatment affects the general morale of seafarers worldwide and has a negative impact on recruitment and retention. Criminal sanctions for accidental pollution may impede accident investigations by discouraging open and full cooperation on the part of seafarers, compromising the ability to identify the cause and prevent recurrence in the future.

IMO/ILO “Guidelines on Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime Accident” were adopted in 2006 in response to a series of high profile cases where seafarers were detained and/or imprisoned following pollution accidents (including the Erika, the Prestige and the Tasman Spirit). Subsequent cases (e.g. Hebei Spirit) prompted IMO and ILO in 2011 to urge States to implement the Guidelines and abide by them in all circumstances where seafarers are detained.

In addition, there are other instances in the course of routine ship operations where seafarers are treated unfairly by port States and terminal operators, including the denial of shore leave and access to medical treatment as provided for under the FAL Convention, Maritime Labour Convention and WHO International Health Regulations.


28 Apr 2014 : PRESS CUTTINGS : In the press during April 2014 :- Chinese companies allege bribery in arbitration; Korean ferry disaster and Maritime Anti Corruption Network work.

A short Update has been received from the International Group of P&I Club lead legal initiative on US Responder Immunity.


Prudent shipowners will naturally wish to have internal measures in place to ensure that their operations are commercially, legally and operationally sound.  These measures should take into account sovereignty issues such as the laws, customs and practices of the individual countries to which they trade, as well as the expectations and requirements of other stakeholders such as Flag State, Port State and Charterers.

As part of the fact finding exercise, we suggest that all INTERCARGO Members should review the information in either the printed “Regional Round Ups” before making a Port Call and consult the updated information on the Port State Control pages of this website.

If you receive a request to make facilitation or other similar payments – for example, to secure clearance of Ballast Water Management protocols in Black Sea ports or to secure Grain-Hold Cleanliness Certificates from Government Officials in South America, please ensure that you complete a Bulk Carrier Terminal Reporting Form so that we can begin to address these cases from the collective position of global Bulk Carrier owners.

Issues covered and available for consultation by INTERCARGO members in the relevant Committee or Correspondence Group are as follows :-