1st Edition

The Precautionary Principle in Marine Environmental Law
With Special Reference to High Risk Vessels

ISBN 9781138189805
Published October 12, 2015 by Routledge
336 Pages

USD $56.95

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Book Description

The book examines whether the jurisdiction of coastal States under international law can be extended to include powers of intervention towards vessels posing a significant risk to their coastal and marine environment, but which have not yet been involved in any incident or accident. The books sets out how it is that coastal State jurisdiction can indeed be seen as including powers of intervention towards High Risks Vessels before an incident or accident happens, on the basis of the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle requires taking action when a risk of damage to the environment is suspected, but cannot be confirmed scientifically.The book thus considers the potential opportunities for the coastal state under international law to regulate international shipping where they consider vessels to an unacceptable risk to the environment, in order to prevent or minimise the risk of occurrence of the accident or incident leading to damage. The book acknowledges that this puts into question some very old and established principles of the law of the sea, most importantly the principle of freedom of navigation. But Bénédicte Sage-Fuller contends that this change would itself be a consequence of the evolution, since the end of WWII, of on the one hand international law of the sea itself, and of international environmental law on the other hand.

Table of Contents

1. High Risk Vessels 2. Coastal States’ Jurisdiction under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 3. Significance of the Precautionary Principle in Marine Law 4. Practical Applications of the Precautionary Principle in Marine Protection Law 5. Application of the Precautionary Principle and Vessel-source Pollution

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Bénédicte Sage-Fuller is a lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University College Cork (Ireland). She has worked on EU research projects in the area of maritime safety and marine environmental protection since 2001. More recently she has lectured in fisheries law, and port law.


This is a highly insightful book, written with enviable clarity, and makes a considerable contribution to the literature on navigational issues generally and the precautionary principle specifically. It is a challenging and provocative text, shedding light on current decision-making processes in marine affairs and questioning the malleability of the law of the sea in responding to current and future threats from international shipping. - Richard Caddell, Swansea University, for Journal of the History of Collections, Vol. 26, no 2, July 2014

Overall, the book presents an engaging and eloquent analysis. With its focus on the risks posed by HRV to the marine environment, the book undoubtedly addresses an important practical concern. In making the case for an increase in coastal States’ powers with regard to HRV based on the precautionary principle, the discussion expands its focus at times to provide context as to how the precautionary principle influences other marine sectors. As such, the book provides an insightful examination of the ways in which navigational regulations are infused with a precautionary rationale. - Aline Jaeckel, University of New South Wales, for The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (2015)