Higher fines for deviating from shipping route north of the Frisian Islands

Vessels that deviate from the prescribed shipping route north of the Frisian Islands could soon face higher fines. Today the Cabinet approved a proposal by Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, to raise the maximum penalty from 7,600 euros to 78,000 euros.

Pollution

The mandatory shipping route between Noord Hinder and the German Bight was established to reduce the risk of large-scale pollution in the Frisian Islands region in the event of a shipping accident. The route is further from the coast to allow more time for protective measures to be taken if an accident occurs.

Cutting fuel costs

The Coastguard constantly monitors shipping traffic to the north of the Frisian Islands region and vessels that are required to use the compulsory shipping route can be quickly identified. According to the Coastguard’s data, between 60 and 70 tankers deviated from the compulsory route in 2010 and 2011. In 2012 the number fell to 28. Deviating from the route means that ships can use less fuel, cutting their costs by up to 9,100 euros.

Deterrent

The government hopes that increasing the maximum fine will act as a deterrent and perhaps even entirely stop ships from sailing too close to the northern coast of the Frisian Islands. The new maximum fine significantly exceeds the cost saving achieved by deviating from the compulsory route. An undertaking to increase the maximum fine was given to the House of Representatives in September 2011. The proposed increase will require an amendment to the Shipping Act (Scheepvaartverkeerswet) and should take effect as of 1 January 2014.

The Cabinet has agreed to submit the bill to the Council of State for an advisory opinion. The text of the bill and the advisory opinion will be published when the bill is presented to the House of Representatives.