Dalhousie Law Journal


pollution, merchant, shipping, marine, environment, ships, liability, sea, environmental law, Australia, enforcement, legislation, oil spills, MARPOL


Marine pollution damage from ships is not a major problem in Australian jurisdictions, but there are regular incidents. The Australian law relating to marine pollution from ships closely follows the international conventions. Australia is a party to almost all of the relevant IMO conventions and, as is required for common law countries, the domestic legislation to give effect to them needs to be put in place. This has been done for the most part by the Commonwealth, the states and the Northern Territory as Australia is a federation. The Commonwealth and the states have established adequate enforcement resources for the law to be fairly effectively enforced This article discusses and describes the Australian legislation that prevails in each junsdiction. The legislation provides both civil remedies for any oil spills, such as the compulsory insurance regimes under the CLC, Fund and the Bunkers Conventions, and powers to the government to prosecute for breach of regulatory laws, such as MARPOL The article also describes the laws applicable in special areas, such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Torres Strait and the Antarctic Region. The author concludes that the overlapping laws and jurisdictions amongst the Commonwealth. the states and the Northern Territory make for an extensive and confusing system of laws that needs to be rationalized.