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Oil Pollution Damage

CLC/IOPC system (International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage + International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund) covers pollution damage occurred in consequence of carriage of oil (persistent hydrocarbon mineral oil) by the vessel. In particular, this damage is defined as: "loss or damage caused outside the ship by contamination resulting from the escape or discharge of oil from the ship, wherever such escape or discharge may occur." However, "compensation for impairment of environment other than loss of profit from such impairment is limited to costs of reasonable measures of reinstatement actually undertaken or to be undertaken". Pollution damage includes also preventive measures which are defined as "any reasonable measures taken by the person after an incident has occurred to prevent or minimise pollution damage."

It is a two-tier system of liability. The shipowner is responsible, on the basis of strict liability, up to a certain limit depending on the tonnage of his ship. The IOPC Fund, created from annual contributions of oil importers by sea, used to provide additional compensation up to 135 million SDR (Special Drawing Rights) but this limit was increased on 1 November 2003 to 203 million SDR to the incidents that occurred after this date.

After the Erika tanker accident in 1999, EU Member States identified the need to increase their involvement at EU level in this area. The Prestige tanker accident in 2002 reinforced the need for such involvement. Following an initiative of EU Members States, the IMO adopted in May 2003 the Supplementary Fund Protocol which provided a significant increase (up to 750 million SDR, which is about €1 billion) in the fund available to compensate damages caused by oil tanker accidents under a regime of strict liability.

Most of the EU Member States are Parties to CLC 1992, Fund 1992 and Supplementary Fund.

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