by Ike Okorie

1. An Overview of Maritime Administration and Safety

In Nigeria.

Growing concern for the future of the Nigerian marine and coastal environment in relation to pollution threats has placed NIMASA in the forefront in the protection of the marine environment. Indeed, available statistics have shown that over 80% of all international trade is facilitated by seas and oceans of the world. Thus the need for Safety and clean marine environment regime which will be IMO compliant is required by NIMASA as a platform even for sustenance of animal and plant life which derives over 80% of its supply of oxygen from the marine environment. Thus, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS III) has identified pollutions from land, sea, dumping, vessels and atmosphere ( See Articles 207 – 211, 212).

Section 22 (1) and (2) NIMASA ACT, 2007 clearly stipulates the core functions of the Agency to include:

i. To promote the development of indigenous commercial shipping;

ii. To guarantee maritime safety and security;

iii. To undertake management of marine environment;

iv. To oversee maritime labour matters;

v. To ensure enforcement of the cabotage Act 2003;

vi. To ensure implementation of International Conventions on Maritime Safety and Security.

To achieve the above objectives will require a well articulated legal regime which will not only protect the marine environment but also ensure human health thus enhancing maritime business in Nigeria. The Regulations will identify areas of weakness of the International Conventions and adequately fill in such areas to ensure contextualization or domestication of all such International Conventions in the Maritime Industry.

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2. Statement of Problem of Marine and Coastal Environment Pollution Threats and the Need for proper Legal Template for Regulations

Both Human Health and Marine life have been exposed to hazards arising from introduction by man directly or indirectly of substances or energy into the marine environment. The result has also affected fishing and impaired the quality for use of sea water and marine resources.

Marine pollution causes harm or likely to cause harm to living resources and marine life. It poses hazard to human health. The OIL NAVIGABLE ACT, 1968 which prohibits ship owners from intentionally discharging oil, fuel oil, lubricating oil and heavy diesel oil into the prohibited area of the sea has been observed more in default.

The 1992 CIVIL LIABILITY CONVENTION which deals with discharge of oil into the sea by ship owners, whether by intentional or accidental discharge imposes strict liability on ship owners who spill oil into the sea.

Arguably, the CIVIL LIABILITY CONVENTION is inadequate in view of the right of a ship owner to limitation of liability as compensation to victims may be inadequate.

Compensation under the INTERNATIONAL OIL POLLUTION COMPENSATION FUND (IOPC) is deficient to the extent that it covers only damage caused by the spill of oil at sea. It does not address the resulting pollution caused by hazardous and noxious substances.

With respect to INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION FOR THE PREVENTION OF MARINE POLLUTION (as modified by the Protocol of 1978 - MARPOL 73/78) which was designed to limit and prohibit pollution of the Marine Environment by oil or pollution by noxious liquid substances now supersedes OILPOL but does not cover land – generated waste dumped into the sea.


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(as amended in 1978 and 1980) became effective in Nigeria, no domestication of this Convention has taken place. This Convention, in any case, does not prohibit dumping of vessel generated-wastes or garbage.

It is against this backdrop that there is need for proper Legal Template for Regulations which will incorporate the International Conventions aimed at protecting and preserving the Marine Environment as well as enhanced Marine businesses.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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Written by:

Ike Okorie

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