ANY owner or master of a ship, tanker or offshore installation found guilty of spilling oil into any part of the sea considered a prohibited area will be liable to fines of up to N$1 million or a prison term of up to 25 years.
This is according to amendments made to the Prevention and Combating of Pollution of the Sea by Oil Act passed in December last year.
The new N$1 million penalty replaces the N$200 000 fine that has been in place since the 1990s.
“Any person convicted of an offence referred to in section(s) 2(1) or 13(6) or subsection (1)(b)(i) or (b)(ii), shall be liable to a fine not exceeding N$1 million or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 25 years or to both such fine and such imprisonment,” reads the amendment.
According to the act, the transfer of any oil or harmful substance from a ship or tanker to any other ship or tanker (or similarly, to or from an offshore installation to a ship or tanker) is strictly prohibited, unless with the express permission of the minister.
This mean if any person or entity causes oil to escape, spill or leak from a vessel or offfshore installation into the Namibian territorial sea, or within the exclusive economic zone situated within fifty nautical miles off the Namibian shore, they shall be guilty of committing an offence punishable under the said act.
The discharging of harmful substances in the sea is also included in the amendments and punishable under the act.
The amended act defines a harmful substance as any oil-based substance which, if introduced into the sea, is likely to create a hazard to human health, harm any living substance, resources or marine life, damage amenities or interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea. This includes mixtures of oil with water or any other substance that may be detrimental to human or marine life.
Other fines that have been increased include a N$40 000 penalty or a year in prison for owners or masters who fail to produce a registration certificate when requested by officials.
It is the duty of the master of the ship, tanker or offshore installation, or any member of its crew, to report any oil escapes, spills, leaks, pumps or dumps to a principal officer at any port and failure to report an incident may lead to a N$40 000 fine or up to one year in prison.
All other new fines and penalties are listed in the amendment to the act, which is available on the Namibian parliament's website.
SOURCE: The Namibian