The Mc Lean Group, French Marine & Transport Insurance Industry, informs on the future of inspections in France and provides a diagram based on various possible scenarios, such as penalties if a breach is determined to have occurred.
The Insurance Group highlights that in French Ports: Nantes Saint-Nazaire and LA Rochelle it is difficult to inform what happens when a ship is pursued for infringement to low sulphur regulations.
Concerning La Rochelle, for incidents about very minor excess, the Public Prosecutor instructs Maritime police, orders immobilization of the vessel and requests guarantee, whereas for more important rates at Saint-Nazaire the Insurers haven’t been informed from the Public Prosecutor during the call.
- For every master of ship, to be guilty of such offenses is punishable by one year of imprisonment and 200,000 € fine max.
- Either the Master only is summoned to appear before Court à he will bear the fine himself Or (art L218-23 environmental code) the Master and Owners are summoned. In this case the Judge will decide the apportionment of the fine.
Under the possibility that a vessel is found in breach with regulations on emissions, which require the use of fuels with a sulphur content less than 0.1% by mass when the ship is in port for more than two consecutive hours, then:
The first place will be for the vessel to take necessary corrective action to make the ship compliant with regulations either by using another complying fuel or bunkering compliant fuel is not available on board.
Simultaneously the case is referred to the Public Prosecutor, who has two options:
- either consider having sufficient evidence to decide to pursue or not the Master
- instruct Maritime Police to carry out additional investigations.
In the meantime, the Public Prosecutor can think that there are prima facie evidence enabling to charge the vessel and decide the immobilization of the vessel in port during investigations. A decision that has to be reported to the Master.
Following, the decision can be lifted when the deposit is provided in cash, by wire transfer or certified cheque issued by a French Bank, and also notify the Master. If immobilization has been lifted, the vessel is free to sail.
The Master can be served, before departure or later (sometimes months later), with a summons to appear before Court. The file will be taken over by the Public Prosecutor of Brest and the hearing will take place there.