ECM and PL Ferrari hold joint seminar on US Marpol / APPS enforcement
Herewith below the article published by the Italian Weekly Magazine Ship2Shore about our seminar “Maritime Environmental Compliance & the US Perspective” organized with P&I Brokers PL Ferrari.
Highlighted by the slogan ‘Investigate–Criminalize–Prosecute’, a conference on ‘Maritime Environmental Compliance & the US Perspective’, was organised jointly by the marine regulatory compliance firm ECM Maritime Services, LLC (represented by President/CEO Michael Minogue and Sr. Vice President Nishit Kapoor) and P&I brokers PL Ferrari (represented by Massimiliano Villa) at the Genovese headquarters of PL Ferrari and was attended by some fifty shipowners and shipmanagers, providing an objective and insightful overview on the complex US regulations governing maritime pollution and their enforcement.
Also among the speakers were lawyer Michael G. Chalos, whose firm Chalos O’Connor and Duffy, LLP has assisted several ship owners/operators during US prosecutions for environmental violations and David Roberts, Syndicate Director at Charles Taylor for The Standard Club, both of whom covered typical series’ of events leading up to an investigation and/or prosecution.
The US are well-known hardliners in MARPOL interpretation via the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), with investigations and prosecution typically initiated by the U.S. Coast Guard, before being handed to the Environmental Crimes Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). In addition to the potential detention of crew and the vessel in question, operators also face jail sentences and substantial fines. It is therefore common for defendants in such cases to sign a Plea Agreement to avoid prosecution, often agreeing to a multi-million dollar monetary fine as well as a 3-5 year period of probation governed by an Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP).
ECM’s speakers stressed that such penalties could often affect a company’s very survival and ship owners and managers should take the necessary action to avoid such dire consequences at all costs. Nishit Kapoor explained that one way for operators to protect themselves from such repercussions was to voluntarily adopt and implement an Environmental Management System (EMS) that was in line with typical DOJ ECP requirements. This in turn could provide relief under the Coast Guard’s Voluntary Disclosure Policy (MLEM Appendix V) in case an environmental violation came to light. Companies satisfying the requirements of Appendix V would not have their cases recommended by the Coast Guard for prosecution by the DOJ.
Both speakers stressed that the biggest obstacle to such pro-active steps was ignorance about current legislation in the United States. “The lack of correct information about U.S. environmental regulations in force leads quite often to their breach” noted Michael Minogue.
At the end of the conference, both ECM and PL Ferrari expressed their satisfaction with the feedback obtained, and ECM revealed that another such conference was planned in Japan, later this year.
ECM Maritime Services, LLC was established in 1990. Its headquarters are in Norwalk, Connecticut with branch offices in five US locations as well European offices in Rome, Italy ECM Europe Srl.
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