Big fines not a deterrent for ocean pollution

Oil Slick

Apparently levying six and seven figure fines is an oily drop in the bucket to commercial shippers as yet another company has been caught illegally dumping their waste. It seems Casilda Shipping Ltd. got off easy with a $750K fine for violating international law by forging their “oil record book” and discharging waste oil at sea prior to coming to port in Oakland. By easy, I mean that this was a mere sub-million dollar fine imposed for polluting our oceans with untreated waste oil over a period from July 2007 to May 2008. They should consider themselves quite lucky that their ecological indifference and criminal activities did not result in fines topping $7 million, as was the case with an Egyptian shipping company earlier this year.

Since commercial shipping companies continue to bypass their anti-pollution systems, discharge waste, and risk fines, we need to ask ourselves if these fines are at all adequate. Obviously guilty operating companies are performing a classic cost-benefit analysis and realizing that it is cheaper to incur periodic punitive assessments than disposing of the sludge properly, which can be quite expensive and time consuming.

The Journal of the U.S. EPA Oil Program (2003)

  • A National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study estimated last year that ships worldwide generate 500 million gallons of this sludge.
  • NAS estimates that roughly 5 percent of waste from the largest tankers was discharged illegally and that 15 percent generated by smaller ships was discharged illegally.
  • The study concluded that 65 million gallons is dumped annually.

About The Author

Scott serves as Director of Development & Communications for Audubon Canyon Ranch (focusing on preservation, education and conservation science) and has almost fifteen years of experience spanning for-profit and nonprofit sectors in biotech, wildlife conservation and management, communications, and philanthropy. In addition to a strong track record in organizational growth and leadership, he is the founder of Urban Bird Foundation and Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, and presided over ECHO Fund, a coastal protection and restoration organization, as President for four years. Scott holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy, degrees in Micro & Molecular Biology and Environmental Sciences, and has complemented his studies with a Master's certificate in Environmental Resource Management.

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1 Comment

  1. Jessica

    These companies are horribe…they care more about the money going into their pockets than how they really are effecting the environment…Make the fines bigger, make them feel the damage they have done.


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