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Consequences of the Prestige Sinking for European and International Law

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

The Prestige sinking in 2002 triggered a call for a re-evaluation of the existing regime governing merchant shipping. The European Union (EU) played a crucial role in the resulting regulatory reform. This article examines the public international law issues raised by the accident and the main initiatives taken at the European and international level, especially within the International Maritime Organization (IMO). It discusses, inter alia, the suggestion to amend the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, new developments in the field of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas, phasing out of single hull tankers, EU membership of IMO, flag State control and enforcement and "places of refuge". It is concluded that, despite the positive post-Prestige outcomes, some gaps still remain. For the time being, however, there is no need for new rules but rather for taking full advantage of, clarifying and effectively enforcing the existing ones.


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