“Regretfully, the pilot has ended up in the adverse effect. Instead of diligent control, the State has collected numerous complaints from international carriers and shipowners” – wrote Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk in his Telegram channel on Wednesday, 29 January 2020 and was instantly recited by news and social media, official authorities, even by the central office of the State Ecological Inspection itself. Established in 2017, Azov and Crimean Black Sea Marine Ecological Inspections were expected to assure environmental control in seaports of Ukraine, and, for this purpose, they specialized in marine-related issues, including the pollution caused by ships.
Two and A Half Years of Activity: Controversial Record
One of the arguments standing behind the idea of creating separate marine environmental inspection was to entrust the matter to the single and separate (secluded) authority to suppress corruption in the field. Unfortunately, the outcome turned out to be right the opposite, as argue many parties, experts, yet the authorities themselves. Arbitrary evaluations, concealed inspections, vague instruments and methods, absence of strict rules of procedure – all of that prevented the long-awaited changes from taking place. Aggravated by the Inspection’s powerful authority to order the detention of a vessel in the seaport, it led to the situation where the approach of the Inspection remained unclear, adding to the corruption much more than discouraging it, which was thoroughly exposed in our previous review. Have the Marine Inspections achieved the other task imposed, namely “to strengthen the environmental control in ports of Ukraine”? Evidently, in terms of the image and media appearance. Doubtfully, in terms of the feedback from those who are familiar with the subject and those, who see the Sea at close range.
Some Attempts to Rectify the System, Ultimate Decision to Rebuild from Zero
The Government attempted to change the status quo in the domain, amending the rules, limiting the competence to examine ship ballast waters and cargo (link), improving the modality of interaction between the authorities engaged in the sea port activity (link). Yet, as the recent decision shows, nothing has proved its sustainable effect and the Government decided to go backwards: the power of environmental control in the seaports was returned to the regional offices of the State Ecological Inspection. The text of decision remains unavailable at the time of publication of the present alert, yet the Prime Minister has already said that the rules on ship examination is to be tightened soon and any ship detention will be possible only after an appropriate order of the chief of an Inspection regional office.
What is definitely good about the said decision is that the government rebuffed the tactic of producing bureaucracy for the sake of improvement. Effective changes cannot come by replacing the names of the authorities, further amendments to the rules of procedure are needed.
Published: Lexology, 29 January 2020