[Coral-List] Company pay fine in Marshall Islands for Coral Damage from Vessel Grounding

John Ware jware at erols.com
Thu Mar 5 13:31:32 EST 2009

Hello Andrew and the Coral List,

Well, I kept waiting for the 'other shoe to drop' by someone other than 
me.  But it didn't happen, so here is my input.

The awarding of the $3000 is presented as if it is something of an 
accomplishment.  But $3000 after two years seems hardly worth it.  In 
fact, the original $25,000 doesn't sound like much to me.

If the cause for the optimism that seems to be part of Andrew's e-mail 
is that some sort of precedent has been set, then I would argue that the 
only precedent is that you can do damage to a reef, let the government 
EPA fight for a couple of years, and then get off with about 10% of the 
actual original suit value.

I fail to see this as any sort of victory, but maybe I am missing something.

John Ware
SeaServices, Inc.

Andrew Finlay wrote:

>Dear Listers
>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 Later the President overturned the corrupt Board and rescinded all its decisions including the termination.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)
>Kind regards 
>Andrew Finlay
>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
>Skype: fin_international
>Coral-List mailing list
>Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

    *                                                           *
    *                      John R. Ware, PhD                    *
    *                         President                         *
    *                      SeaServices, Inc.                    *
    *                   19572 Club House Road                   *
    *             Montgomery Village, MD, 20886, USA            *
    *                       301 987-8507                        *
    *                      jware at erols.com                      *
    *                 http://www.seaservices.org                *
    *                     fax: 301 987-8531                     *
    *                                                           *
    *                          Past                             *
    *             Treasurer and Member of the Council:          *
    *            International Society for Reef Studies         *
    *                                          _                *
    *                                         |                 *
    *   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *
    *                                        _|_                *
    *                                       | _ |               *
    *        _______________________________|   |________       *
    *     |\/__       Untainted by Technology            \      *
    *     |/\____________________________________________/      *

Become a member of the International Society for Reef Studies

More information about the Coral-List mailing list