North Sea Network

North Sea Network

The North Sea Network of Investigators and Prosecutors, NSN for short, was set up in 2002 to help enforcement and prosecution of MARPOL maritime pollution offences aiming to prevent and minimize pollution from ships, both accidental and that from routine operations, in the North Sea. The MARPOL Convention includes six technical Annexes to regulate pollution by oil, noxious liquid substances in bulk, harmful substances carried in packaged form, sewage, garbage and air emissions.

NSN is associated with the OSPAR Commission and closely cooperates with the Bonn Agreement.

Meetings are held annually to exchange best practices and cases. A database is maintained with enforcement cases on all MARPOL Annexes.

The North Sea Manual on Pollution Offences was jointly developed by NSN and the Bonn Agreement to support the detection of maritime pollution offences, the collection of evidence about such offences and the imposition of penalties on those responsible for them, thereby helping to deter further offences and improving the marine environment. This Manual is a living document and is regularly updated to take into account legal, political and technical developments in the field of maritime oil pollution offences.

History of NSN and Seminars

In 2002, at the Fifth North Sea Conference, the North Sea Ministers took the initiative to establish the NSN, fulfilling their commitment to “greater co-operation between North Sea States and at the European Union level to enforce internationally agreed rules and standards for the prevention, control and reduction of pollution from ships … to increase detection of illegal discharges and … improve the investigation and prosecution of offenders”.

Since 2002 The North Sea Network of Investigators and Prosecutors has been providing its members with a strong regional platform whereby investigators and prosecutors in all North Sea States work together with a view to identifying features which lead to effective enforcement and ways of handling pollution offences from ships in a transboundary context.

Seminars to facilitate effective prosecution on maritime environmental crimes have been held, the last ones in March 2018 in Scheveningen dealing with violations of MARPOL Annexes II and VI, and in November 2018 in Berlin on prevention of and sanctions on illegal waste disposal from ships at sea.

A new seminar on the effects of publicity of investigations and convictions for maritime pollution offences is planned for 2021.

A word from the Chair, Ewald Brandt

“It goes without saying that I was delighted to have been appointed Chair of the NSN in May 2016. I have been following with great interest, and promoting as best as I can, the activities of NSN of which I have been a permanent member since its very beginning in the year 2002. Since 2002, the challenges facing the network have changed. Whereas at the beginning of our activities prohibited discharges of oil and liquids into the North Sea (MARPOL Annex I and II offences) were still in the foreground, in recent years we have been increasingly concerned with marine litter and air pollution contraventions.” Dr Ewald Brandt is the third Chair of NSN since 2002.


North Sea Network Fact Sheet

North Sea Manual on Maritime Oil Pollution Offences

OSPAR's North Sea Manual on Maritime Oil Pollution Offences was produced to support the detection of maritime oil-pollution offences, the collection of evidence about such offences and the imposition of penalties on those responsible for them, thereby helping to deter further offences and improving the marine environment.

Interpol Garbage Pollution Manual

Published 2018