Coastal State response
Vessels caught illegally discharging waste no longer go unpunished.
In spring 2000, the French authorities noticed that negligent captains were taking advantage of the proximity of the wreck of the Erika to discharge their oily waste. This unpleasant realisation made the authorities determined to crack down on such instances and apply the polluter pays principle to these cases. They changed the rules, making it no longer mandatory to sample and analyse the waste water onboard the vessel and in its wake. The maximum fine for illicit discharge was increased to 1 million Euros (French Code of the Environment revise by the law Perben 2 dated 11/03/04). Vessels caught in the act were now detained in port until a bank gurantee was deposited (e.g. 500,000 € for the Pontokrastoras on 21 December 2003).
More generally speaking, offences committed by maritime transport in maritime zones are punished by the coastal State according to national legislation and the application of international treaties. Cooperation between States is necessary in terms of deliberate oil discharge: a pollution incident may become an international issue if the vessel flees and crosses water boundaries, as the offender may do after committing the offence. The different States have set up a regulatory framework that is applied in proceedings for illicit pollution in the waters under the State's control. Certain States go to the extent of expanding their protection zones in response to the lack of legal action taken by the flag States. France and Croatia thus expanded their protection of their maritime areas through the creation of a French ecological protection zone in 2004 and a Croatian ecological and fisheries protection zone in 2003. These steps allow the punishment of pollution incidents in the protected zones to be reinforced, as demonstrated by the judgments and directives for illicit discharge.