American Cruise Ship Master Fined EUR100,000 in France Over Bunker Sulphur Limit Breach

Azura Cruise Ship
Photo: P&O Cruises

In a first of its kind ruling in France, the Master of P&O-operated cruise ship “Azura” has been fined EUR100,000 for knowingly burning bunker fuel with a sulphur content exceeding European Union limits.   

However, the owner and manager of the vessel, U.S.-based Carnival plc., which is parent to P&O, was ordered to pay EUR80,000 of the sum.

Three local environmental organisations were also awarded EUR5,000 each in damages.

In our earlier coverage of the case on 10 October 2018, we reported that the Azura’s American Master, Captain Evans Hoyt, faced unprecedented charges for the violation of European pollution limits.

Back in May 2018, the “Azura” reportedly took on board a fuel oil stem in Barcelona which was then targeted by authorities in Marseille and found to contain 1.68% sulphur, above the currently permitted EU limit of 1.5%.

Despite the rejection of its defences by the prosecution for being “too vague”, we understand that Carnival will file an appeal adopting a similar position, and centering on the 2012 amendment to a European “Sulphur” Directive enacted into French law. The Directive states that the limit of 1.5% sulphur content only applies to passenger ships (such as ferries), which provide regular services to or from EU ports.

The French public prosecutor also reportedly spoke of the need within the booming cruise industry for the respect of international, European and internal standards.