Legal actions

A report is drawn up on each violation of the MARPOL regulations and sent to the national authorities for violations occurring in the Belgian territorial waters or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), or to flag state or one of our neighbouring coast states by diplomatic means for violations occurring outside Belgian marine areas.

Under Belgian law, the reports have value of proof until evidence is provided of the contrary.

The law prohibits any discharge of harmful substances in Belgian marine areas.

Vessels that cause deliberate pollution at sea are liable for substantial fines which were set by the law of 6 April 1995 on the prevention of sea pollution (amended by the law of 20 January 1999 on the protection of the marine environment).

Merchant shipping

the owner, the shipping agent or the manager of the ship (*) 500.000 – 1.000.000
the captain 10.000 – 25.000
an officer 2.000 – 10.000

Yachts or fishery vessel

the owner, the shipping agent or the manager of the ship (*) 10.000 – 25.000
the skipper 3.000 – 25.000

(*) The fines here mentioned are doubled when the infringement is committed between sunset and sunrise. They can be redoubled in case of recidivism.

To calculate the fines that can actually be demanded, the amounts set by the law should be increased in line with an indexation mechanism evolving over time. This means that the amounts given above currently need to be multiplied by a factor 6.

The public prosecutor can propose an amicable settlement but the proposed amount may not, under any circumstances, be less than one tenth of the minimum indexed fine stipulated by law.