Client Alert:



Pursuant to Article 20 of the Turkish Environmental Code no. 2872 (“Code”), fines are imposed on vessels for causing pollution in Turkish waters through discharge of petroleum products, dirty ballast, garbage and sewage into the sea. Different from the major increase imposed in December 2018, this is merely an adjustment of the fines for inflation that takes place every year.

The tariff below contains the increased (at the rate of 122.93%) fines for the year 2023 that are applicable as of 1 January 2023.

I. Tariff

1. Petrol and petroleum products discharged by tankers:

Up to 1,000 (inclusive) gross tons (GT) TRY 2,009.85 per GT (up from TRY 901.56 per GT)
Between 1,000 and 5,000 (inclusive) GT An additional TRY 502.48 per GT (up from TRY 225.40 per GT)
Over 5,000 GT An additional TRY 50.23 TRY per GT (up from TRY 22.53 per GT)

2. Dirty ballast discharged by tankers:

Up to 1,000 (inclusive) GT TRY 366.18 per GT (up from TRY 164.26 per GT)
Between 1,000 and 5,000 (inclusive) GT An additional TRY 73.05 per GT (up from TRY 32.77 per GT)
Over 5,000 GT An additional TRY 11.59 per GT (up from TRY 5.20 per GT)

3. Petrol/petroleum products and dirty ballast discharged by vessels or any other marine vehicles:

Up to 1,000 (inclusive) GT TRY 1004.92 per GT (up from TRY 450.78 per GT)
Between 1,000 and 5,000 (inclusive) GT An additional TRY 200.99 per GT (up from TRY 90.16 per GT)
Over 5,000 GT An additional TRY 50.23 per GT (up from TRY 22.53 per GT)

4. Garbage and sewage discharged by vessels or any other marine vehicles1:

Up to 1,000 (inclusive) GT TRY 502.48 per GT (up from TRY 225.40 per GT)
Between 1,000 and 5,000 (inclusive) GT An additional TRY 100.50 per GT (up from TRY 45.08 per GT)
Over 5,000 GT An additional TRY 50.23 per GT (up from TRY 22.53 per GT)

II. Heavier Fines in Qualified Incidents

It is noteworthy that vessels discharging hazardous substances shall face fines 10-fold those stipulated for petroleum products in tariff 1 and 3 above. Vessels which pollute the environment repeatedly shall also face heavier fines: first recurrence within 3 years will lead to the doubling of the fine whereas the second and further recurrences will lead to a 200% increase. On the other hand, if the vessel manages to remove the pollution by her own means, only 1/3 of the above rates are imposed.

An amendment introduced in 2018 is still in place which stipulates that the fines set out above shall be applicable three-fold if the liable party is an “institution, organisation or a business”. This covers ship-owning companies and companies that charter ships.

In order to give our readers an idea of the severity of the fines, at the current rates, a 10,000 GT general cargo vessel -owned expectedly by a “company”- faced with an allegation of illegal discharge of dirty ballast would be levied with a fine of TRY 6,180,090.00 which corresponds, as per the current USD/TRY exchange rate, approximately to USD 330,000.00.

Fines for marine pollution caused by vessels will be applied twofold if the incident subject to the fine has occurred within a Specially Protected Area (SPA) which include the Marmara Sea and several other important ports. (

III. Payment and Objection

The fines issued by the authorities due to an alleged pollution must be paid or sufficient and suitable security must be put up immediately and in full. Otherwise, the vessel is likely to be detained. If the fine is paid within 30 days, a 1/4 discount becomes applicable.

Objections to fines can be filed with the Administrative Court within 30 days of notification. It should be noted that an objection does not stop the collection of the fine. Therefore, the recommended course of action is to pay the fine within 30 days benefitting from the 1/4 discount and then filing an objection with the Administrative Court if there are sufficient grounds to do so.

Even though authorities in principle accept P&I Club letters of undertaking to grant clearance to the vessel to sail, in practice, it may be difficult to meet the authorities’ demands in terms of the wording of the letters of undertaking as each Harbour Master implements different criteria. Also to note is that the wording of the letter of undertaking would most likely be different from wordings that are ordinarily used in the sense that it would be required to contain a direct undertaking to pay the fine within a relatively short period of time, e.g. 15 or 30 days, as opposed to the Club’s payment obligation being triggered by a finalized judgment or award. In this respect, it is of utmost importance to exercise extra care during the period of stay in Turkish ports and owners and their P&I Clubs/insurers are advised to immediately consult their correspondents and experienced shipping lawyers when faced with an allegation of marine pollution to ensure the swift handling of the procedures with the authorities.

IV. Criminal Charges and Other Additional Fines

Authorities that detect a pollution incident are under an obligation to report the incident to the public prosecutor immediately. The public prosecutor will then commence a criminal investigation into the incident which is usually followed by criminal proceedings brought against the master of the vessel.

In addition to the administrative pollution fines set out in the tariff above, the Harbour Master may also impose a fine of up to TRY 5,000,000 for pollution caused by a vessel navigating in Turkish territorial waters in circumstances that require emergency intervention due to collisions, breakdown, fires, explosions or similar incidents. This type of fine is different from the tonnage based tariff above since the fine to be imposed by Harbour Masters is not subject to a tariff and the Harbour Master has total discretion in determining the quantum of the fine up to the TRY 5,000,000 limit.

In recent years, we have seen stricter measures employed by the authorities in the application of environmental protection measures against pollution. At ErsoyBilgehan, with our vast experience in environmental law and pollution incidents, we advise and represent our clients in objections against administrative fines as well as in criminal proceedings in relation to the same.

1For this category, fixed fines are applicable to vessels up to 18 GT, 18-50 GT, 50-100 GT and 100-150 GT.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries.


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