Client Alert:



Turkey has amended its Environmental Code with a new law published in the Official Gazette on 15 June 2022. The amendments introduces stricter measures for marine pollution and also brings long awaited clarity to penalties applicable in case of non-compliance with IMO 2020 sulphur limits. The amendments also provide for harsher fines for pollution inside Specially Protected Areas and new fines applicable to terminals and shore facilities that fail to report pollution incidents.

I. Discharge of certain substances

As described in our firm’s previous client alerts (, administrative fines were issued to vessels for causing marine pollution under four categories: (i) petrol and petroleum products discharged by tankers, (ii) dirty ballast discharged by tankers, (iii) petrol/petroleum products and dirty ballast discharged by vessels or any other marine vehicles and (iv) garbage and sewage discharged by vessels or any other marine vehicles.

The new amendment concerns category (iv) and clarifies more precisely which types of discharges would be construed as pollution. While the previous wording under the relevant category only referred to the discharge of “garbage and sewage”, the new wording lists the following substances as pollutants:

(i) domestic waste water (sewage),

(ii) water mixed with detergent,

(iii) foam,

(iv) exhaust gas,

(v) washwater

(vi) and similar washing waters and solid wastes, meaning the list is not exhaustive.

The new provisions will enable the authorities to issue harsher fines for smaller vessels – vessels that are up to 18 (inclusive) gross tons (GT) will be fined for TRY 5,000 whereas the fine amount will be TRY 10,000 for vessels that are between 18 and 50 (inclusive) GT. For vessels that are between 50 and 100 (inclusive) the fine amount will be TRY 20,000, and for vessels that are between 100 and 150 (inclusive) the fine amount will be TRY 30,000. The same tariffs apply for vessels which are larger than 150 GT.

II. Responsibilities for Terminals and Shore Facilities

A new provision stipulates that managements of ports, terminals, shipyards, ship recycling facilities, yacht harbours and similar shore facilities will be fined in the amount of TRY 25,000 for failure to report to the authorities pollution incidents which has occurred inside their premises. Furthermore, these facilities can be fined for an amount between TRY 25,000 and TRY 100,000 if they do not take necessary precautions in terms of the collection and management of marine wastes/garbage, waste or sewage.

III. Sulphur Content of Marine Fuels

Pursuant to a newly implemented paragraph, vessels that use fuels containing sulphur in an amount that is higher than the limits designated under international conventions to which Turkey is a party will be fined. This amendment was intentionally aimed at introducing penalties for vessels that fail to comply with the sulphur cap implemented under IMO 2020. The following is the tariff for this new fine category, on the basis of the gross tonnage of the vessel concerned:

Up to 1,000 (inclusive) gross tons (GT) TRY 200 per GT
Between 1,000 and 5,000 (inclusive) GT An additional TRY 25 per GT
Over 5,000 GT An additional TRY 5 per GT

IV. Specially Protected Areas

Another important amendment stipulates that 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). As of 15 June 2022, these areas include the following but can be extended by future Presidential Decrees:

No Name of the area
1 Belek
2 Datça - Bozburun
3 Fethiye - Göcek
4 Foça
5 Gökova
6 Göksu Delta
7 Gölbaşı
8 Ihlara
9 Kaş - Kekova
10 Köyceğiz
11 Pamukkale
12 Patara
13 Tuz Lake
14 Uzungöl Lake
15 Saros Gulf
16 Finike - Deniz Altı Dağları
17 Salda Lake
18 Karaburun - Ildır Gulf
19 Marmara Sea and Prince's Islands

For better reference, please refer to the map of SPAs (in red) below:


As it can be seen from the map, vessels calling at ports located in the Marmara Sea or even passing through the Turkish Straits should exercise extra care during their passages through SPAs. In any case, 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.

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.

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


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