UOnce an illicit discharge offence has been detected at sea, the elements must be sent to the relevant services on land and these services must be convinced that there is sufficient evidence to trigger a response: rerouting a ship towards a local port for inspection, holding it there until a bank guarantee is supplied, engaging legal proceedings and obtaining a conviction are acts which may result in serious consequences. To take such actions, it is essential to have solid evidence.
Once the pollution has been detected, the information must be communicated rapidly so that the relevant agents can respond as quickly as possible, in perfect coordination. The observer who detected the pollution sends a Polrep message to the appropriate authority (nearest MRCC, Coastguard, MCA… see Bonn Agreement website).
Polreps contain the classification, date, position and extent of the pollution, the identity of the observer, the wind speed and direction, the sea state, the characterisation of the pollution and the source of the pollution when known.
Source: UK Ministry of Defence Acquisition Management System.
INITIAL POLREP-SIGNAL MESSAGE FORMAT
Addressee for action: relevant MRCC.
A – Classification of report
G – Source and cause of pollution
Various immediate actions can then be taken: inform the port State of the next port of call so that the ship may be inspected, organise an onboard inspection visit at sea, reroute the ship towards the nearest port for inspection. All such actions imply that solid evidence is available.