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MARPOL violations in US

MARPOL violations, typically of Annex I, on high seas is not uncommon and one state that has been aggressively pursuing such is US. Charges are brought not for dumping oil on high seas but for failure to maintain an accurate oil record book. At times in this process, USCG may [appear] to violate USs' own laws/rules. Hoping that such was the case, owners of Nederland Reefer approached the court after their vsl was detained.

They raised 3 defences -

  1. The rights of crew were violated by warrantless inspection;

  2. CE was not informed of his rights before questioning; &

  3. Demand for $1m bond and agreement on security (to continue paying crew through their trial) was unconstitutional.

As per the court, USCG has broad authority to board vsls in US waters to conduct warrantless insp. as well as arrests. This was not a violation of the rights of owner/crew. Interview of CE by USCG was not a custodial interrogation. It was conducted by unarmed officers, where the CE was free to leave. The 2nd interview was borderline custodial as two officers were armed and questioning was aggressive in nature, however CE had been informed in advance that he is free to leave at any time and he exercised that right to terminate the interview. As for the 3rd argument, it was a non-starter.

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