The captain of a Ukrainian fishing vessel has been convicted for dumping sewage into South African coastal waters.

The conviction, which is the first of its kind for South Africa, along with the sentence, serves as confirmation that the country is serious about combating marine pollution crime according to the Department of Environmental Affairs.

The captain of the More Sodruzhestva was sentenced to pay a fine of R300 000 or serve 24 months imprisonment of which half was suspended for 5 years on the condition that he is not convicted of contravening other environmental law provisions.

MARPOL convention

The South African Maritime Safety Authority also raised additional Admissions of Contravention (AoC) against both the master and the owners of the vessel which saw a total penalty of R1.7 million for failure to comply with domestic legislation which gives effect to the MARPOL convention to which South Africa is a signatory among other things.

The MARPOL convention is an International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, and is one of the most important international marine environmental conventions.

30 Days at Sea global operation

“This case is another success which resulted from South Africa’s participation in INTERPOL’s 30 Days at Sea global operation,” the department explained.

The operation was a month-long affair which saw some 276 law enforcement and environmental agencies across 58 countries detect over 500 offences, including illegal discharges of oil and garbage from vessels, shipbreaking, breaches of ship emissions regulations, and pollution on rivers and land-based runoff to the sea.

The operation was led by the integrated enforcement programme of Operation Phakisa, which involves Environmental and Fisheries authorities, Maritime and Border Agencies, National Police, Customs, Intelligence Structures and Port Authorities.