Following on from my blog of October 9th regarding the case of the cruise ship captain being charged with pollution offences by a Marseille court, it has been reported that the captain (and his employers) have been found guilty.
The captain, accused of burning fuel with excessive sulphur levels has been fined £88,500, the first such ruling in France. The prosecution was intended to signal a new seriousness in tackling pollution from cruise ships after a spot-check in March on the Azura, operated by P&O Cruises, found it contained unauthorised bunker fuel.
The American captain, Evans Hoyt, knew the fuel was illegal – it contained 1.68% sulphur, 0.18% above the European limit – and the company was using it to save money, prosecutors said during the trial.
The judge handed Hoyt a fine of £88,500 but specified that the parent company of P&O, the US-based Carnival Corporation, should pay 80% of the sum.
The company had “wanted to save money at the expense of everyone’s lungs”, the prosecutor Franck Lagier told the court in October. A recent report in the Journal Nature attributed 400,000 premature deaths and 14m cases of childhood asthma a year to emissions from dirty shipping fuel, though it must be stated that there are no clear figures which relate directly to leisure cruising.
A spokesman for Carnival said: “The Carnival group takes its legal and moral obligations towards the protection of the environment very seriously indeed. We were therefore very disappointed to be prosecuted for this offence, which was based on a European law the French environment ministry had explicitly informed the cruise industry would not be applied to cruise ships and which, in any event, has still not been properly implemented. The captain was using the fuel in good faith, as directed by us, based on our understanding of the law. We have lodged an appeal and will consider the full decision of the court once it is available.”
Marseille is a popular stop for giant cruise ships and port services are an important part of the local economy. However, smog has increased in the city in recent years and shipping (not specifically cruising) is thought to be at least partially responsible.
Do you think bigger numbers of increasingly larger ships are having a detrimental effect on our environment? Will, there inevitably be a time when we have to limit the number of cruise ships entering service or can the environmental issues caused by shipping be predominantly attributed to the freight operators as opposed to the leisure cruise industry?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Bye for now.