North Sea Network of Investigators and Prosecutors 2021

15 June 2021

The 2021 meeting of the North Sea Network of Investigators and Prosecutors (NSN) was held online on 11 June and was chaired by Dr. Ewald Brandt (Germany). Participants from Belgium, Denmark, the European Union (European Maritime Safety Agency –EMSA-), the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and representatives from the Bonn Agreement and REMPEC attended the meeting.

Mr Vincent Van Quickenborne, the Belgian federal Minister of Justice and North Sea, opened the meeting and referred to NSN’s unique cooperation around the important theme of enforcement of maritime law and prevention of pollution. Belgium offered to host the next NSN meeting to celebrate its 20th birthday back to back with the Seminar on Publicity of Investigations and Convictions on the last week of April 2022.

NSN agreed on several tasks to be included in the implementation plan supporting OSPAR’s North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy 2030.

The Netherlands and Norway presented enforcement cases on MARPOL Annexes II, V and VI; all of which would feed into NSN’s database. Additionally, the Netherlands gave a verbal update on the Panama flagged ship MSC Zoe for which no criminal offence was found. In relation to the NSN database, the meeting agreed to maintain it with no special criteria for submission of cases. All MARPOL Annex VI cases presented and included in the database were related to SOx emissions and not to NOx emissions; the reason for this being that the NOx Tier III emissions requirements were applicable since January 2021 in the North Sea NECA and that court cases needed time.

On MARPOL Annex VI enforcement, NSN agreed to have an update in 2022 on the progress of the working groups on Strategic & Operational issues and Technical aspects under OTSOPA.

Regarding the North Sea Manual on Pollution Offences, NSN agreed to include the chapter proposed on MARPOL Annex V and the amendments to the chapter on MARPOL Annex II. Work will be done on the drafting of a new chapter on MARPOL Annex VI to present it at NSN 2022.

NSN agreed to follow up the EU’s progress on the reporting of detected spills and enforcement cases under Directive 2005/35/EC on Ship Source Pollution.

NSN agreed to continue to exchange information with the Network of Prosecutors on Environmental Crime in the Baltic Sea Region (ENPRO) and the Mediterranean Network of Law Enforcement Officials relating to MARPOL within the framework of the Barcelona Convention (MENELAS).