[Coral-List] Company pay fine in Marshall Islands for Coral Damage from Vessel Grounding
finlayrao at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Mar 3 13:53:48 EST 2009
After a two year battle, the Republic of the Marshall Island's Environmental Protection Authority (RMIEPA) has won its High Court Case in the Marshall Islands, with Pacific International Inc (PII) being convicted on three counts: coral damage, fishery habitat destruction and marine pollution. This was for the grounding of their vessel the MV Emerald on the lagoon coral reefs of Enemanet Island, Majuro Atoll in early 2007.
Last week, the Judge fined PII US$25,000, with $22,000 suspended provided that PII do not violate the environmental laws within the next five years.
Would like to thank John Starmer, in CNMI and Tom Moore of NOAA for invaluable information on coral reef restoration economics and also Christopher Hale for legal information.
The trial did not pass without casualties. During the trial, the Government's prosecuting attorney, the former Attorney General, was forced to resign in early 2008 when the CEO of Pacific International Inc', son became his boss, the Minister of Justice. My contract as the EPA Advisor was then terminated later in 2008 without reason after testifying as the expert witness, when a new EPA Board was illegally appointed and chaired by a senior PII employee. Later the President overturned the corrupt Board and rescinded all its decisions including the termination.
It certainly make an interesting case study, but more to the point sets a great precedent for the future enforcement of environmental laws and protection of coral reefs in the Marshall Islands.
Article from the Marshall Islands Journal below (if you want a jpeg or pdf of the article please feel free to email me)
Former RMIEPA Advisor
PII pays $3,000 fine in
Enemanet pollution case
End to ongoing EPA issue
After a lengthy trial and hearing process, the High
Court sentenced Pacific International Inc. Thursday to
pay $3,000 while suspending the balance of a $25,000
fine for a 2007 pollution incident at Enemanet Island on
Majuro’s north shore.
Chief Justice Carl Ingram found PII guilty of three counts
of marine pollution last August following a trial, but followed
up with additional hearings in December to gather
more evidence concerning coral damage and mitigation
and clean up efforts. Ingram pointed out that the marine
protection laws do not require that the pollution was
caused intentionally or by negligence. “It is enough that
the discharge, contamination and pollution occurred,” he
said in Thursday’s sentencing decision.
In delivering the sentence, Ingram said he took into
consideration all the evidence, efforts by PII to clean
and restore the lagoon area by Enemanet, the lack of
evidence that PII intentionally caused the problem, and
the laws that allowed for a maximum fine of $500,000
for the incident.
He ordered PII to pay $25,000 and reimburse the RMI
government for the $695 cost for engaging diver Matt Holly
to produce a report on the underwater area at Enemanet.
But Ingram suspended $22,000 provided that PII paid
$3,000 fine and $695 reimbursement by March 1 and
does not intentionally or through gross negligence violate
marine pollution laws for the next five years.
PII paid the fine on Tuesday this week.
R. Andrew O. Finlay
United Kingdom Mob: +44 7982194897
Australia Mob: +61 420421292
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