Marine pollution mainly discharge of oil, bunkers, harmful substances, pollutants and waster from ships and off shore platforms into Malaysian waters and EEZ is governed through the following legislation:
• Merchant Shipping Act 1952 • Merchant Shipping (Liability and Compensation for Oil and Bunker Oil Pollution) Act 1994 • Environmental Quality Act 1974 • Exclusive Economic Zone Act 1984.
Merchant Shipping Act 1952 The Act prohibits the discharge of oil or harmful substances by any ship into Malaysian territorial waters and renders persons at fault to fines, imprisonment or both. Harmful substances means substances which if introduced into the sea are liable to create hazards to human health and harm living resources and marine lift, damage amenities or interfere with the legitimate uses of the sea. Discharge of oil or harmful substances necessitated for securing the safety of a ship or saving of life at sea is lawfully excused. The Director of Marine has wide powers to prevent control and contain the extent of pollution by oil or harmful substances and seek recovery of his costs and expenses as a debt or charge on the ship at fault. This includes the powers to take measures to sink or destroy the ship or cargo or the direct the taking over of the ship and its cargo.
Environmental Quality Act 1974 The Act prohibits the discharge of any kind of waste or pollutants into inland waters and territorial waters. Pollutants are defined widely from natural or artificial substances in solid, liquid or gas form, this includes environmentally hazardous substances as well as any objectionable odour, noise or heat with a propensity to cause pollution directly or indirectly. The Director General of the Department has wide powers to remove, disperse destroy or mitigate the pollution and recover all costs and expenses from an offending ship which can be seized and detained. Such ship shall only be released when adequate security to cover the costs and expenses is furnished by its owners or insurers.
Merchant Shipping (Liability and Compensation for Oil and Bunker Oil Pollution) Act 1994 This Act addresses loss and damage caused outside a ship by contamination resulting from the discharge or escape of oil or bunker oil from the ship in Malaysian waters and provides for compensation for impairment of environment and costs of reasonable measures of reinstatement.
Exclusive Economic Zone Act 1984 The Act provides for measures to preserve the environment and addresses marine pollution in those waters lying outside Malaysian internal waters and territorial seas in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) which is the sea area extending two hundred nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured. Any deliberate dumping of wastes or other matter, oil or pollutants from vessels, aircraft, platforms or man-made structures in the EEZ is prohibited. Should any oil or pollutant is discharged or escapes into the EEZ, the owner of the vessel, aircraft or the installation from where it escaped from is strictly liable unless they can prove the discharge was necessary and reasonable for the saving of life and property. In any event they shall bear all clean up and costs of removing or mitigating the damage. The Director General has the power to detain and sell the offending vessel for the fine, costs and expenses unless adequate security is furnished.
International Pollution Conventions
Malaysia gives effect to the following marine pollution conventions:
• Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972
• International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC), 1969 as amended by Protocol 1992
• International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Oil Pollution Damage (FUND) 1971 as amended by Protocol 1992
• International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (Bunkers Convention), 2001
To date the Firm, involved in all the major pollution incidents in Malaysia, is the leader in this field having acted for ship owners and their insurers in dealing with authorities and defending claims for pollution damage occasioned in Malaysian waters by ships.
The information herein is for general guidance only, may have been superseded, circumstances may have changed and does not in any way represent or replace professional legal advice which must be obtained in each individual case.