Turkish Pollution Fines and Recommended Precautionary Measures – Updated 01/01/2017

The Turkish Environmental Code provides that any vessel causing or suspected to have caused pollution will be detained, and can only be released upon payment of a fine which is calculated based on the tariff published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and updated on 1st January of each year (see current tariff below).

Under the relevant code, the EPA are entitled to ask for cash payment of the fine amount and they do not accept any form of security to release the ship. Exceptionally, they may accept a bankers’ draft and/or payment guarantees to be issued by the ship’s agents payable in a maximum of one to two days and without any conditions. They will not accept P&I letters of undertaking. A 25% discount shall be applied to cash payment of fines providing the payments are effected within thirty (30) days of the fine statement date.

The regulations are interpreted in different ways at different ports and are enforced most rigorously in the Istanbul and Tuzla anchorages, with EPA personnel collecting samples from any vessels they find discharging anything over the side. Often video evidence is gathered by the EPA personal but it is worth noting that the EPA do not have to produce evidence that the fine is valid and owners (if they chose to appeal) would need to produce evidence that the fine was not correctly imposed, which is very difficult.

Ship owners are entitled to appeal before the competent Administrative Court within thirty calendar days from the notification date of the fine. However, appealing the fine decision will not result in the lifting of any arrest order of the fined vessel and generally there are very low prospects of success in the appeal proceedings.

It is important to recognize that the EPA regards any substance emanating from the vessel as a pollutant - not only oily substance (where the fines are multiplied by a factor of ten - see Cat C in the tariff below) but by ballast water, grey water, sewage – we have even seen a fine imposed where a vessel was in a floating dock being sand blasted and due to heavy rain the water mixed with the red paint dust overflowed the floating dock and ran into the sea.

The EPA always consider the vessel to be responsible, so even if the “pollution” is caused by a third party (such as a shipyard or as a result of a collision) the vessel will have to pay the fine. Whether the contractual arrangements would allow recovery from a shipyard will depend on the terms agreed in the specific contract.

Additionally, please note that if the same vessel is caught for a second or third offence in a three year period the fine imposed will be doubled or tripled respectively.

The following is a guideline to avoid the risk of pollution and subsequent fine, and all vessels calling in Turkish territorial waters should be instructed accordingly;

  • No deck washing or hatch cover hose testing should be performed at anchorages or in port.
  • No testing of ballast tanks or fire pumps/hoses at anchorages or in port.
  • No de-ballasting should be performed, unless the ballast water has been checked and is determined to be clean. Whilst the vessel’s master may consider the ballast water is clean, whether the EPA consider the ballast water is clean is very difficult to determine. As such we would recommend de-ballasting is avoided as far as safely possible.
  • All overboard discharges should be closed and the valves secured/sealed in closed position to avoid being opened accidently. If possible the crew should determine that, with the valves in the closed position, there is no seepage past them. The fines are not imposed based on quantity so even if only a small amount of substance enters the sea the fine will be enforced.
  • All scuppers are to be closed/plugged. If possible, continuous deck edge plates should be fitted so as to avoid any rain washing cargo residues/hydraulic leaks into the sea.
  • Sewage systems should not be operated during the stay, both at port and at anchor. All "grey water" should be held on board and prevented from escaping.
  • Cargo residues, cargo space cleaning residues, all garbage, incinerator ash and other substances should be prevented from escaping.

The pollution fines between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017 were updated as follows:

1) Pollution from petroleum tankers and derivatives (raw petroleum, fuel oil, bilge, oil mud, refined product oil waste etc.)
Up to 1000 (inclusive) Gross Ton 84.91 TL /per Ton
Between 1000-5000 (inclusive) Gross Ton Additional 21.18 TL /per Ton
Over 5000 Gross Tons Additional 2.03 TL /per Ton

2) Dirty ballast discharged to sea by tankers
Up to 1000 (inclusive) Gross Tons 63.67 TL /per Ton
Between 1000-5000 (inclusive) Gross Tons Additional 12.70 TL /per Ton
Over 5000 Gross Tons Additional 2.03 TL /per Ton

3) Pollution from ships and other sea vessels that release petroleum derivatives (Bilge, oil mud, freight mud, fuel oil, oil waste or dirty ballast)
Up to 1000 (inclusive) Gross Tons 42.44 TL /per Ton
Between 1000-5000 (inclusive) Gross Tons Additional 8.45 TL /per Ton
Over 5000 Gross Tons Additional 2.03 TL /per Ton

4) Garbage and sewage discharged to sea by vessels or any other sea vehicles
Up to 1000 (inclusive) Gross Tons 21.18 TL /per Ton
Between 1000-5000 (inclusive) Gross Tons Additional 4.18 TL /per Ton
Over 5000 Gross Tons Additional 0.79 TL /per Ton