An American cruise ship captain has been fined €100,000 by a court in Marseille for deliberately flouting EU air pollution limits.
The prosecution began after a spot check on the Azura in March found that it was burning unauthorised bunker fuel which contained 1.68 per cent sulphur – well above the 1.5 per cent limit set by the EU.
The captain – 58-year-old Evans Hoyt – knew the fuel he had filled up with in Barcelona was illegal, argued prosecutors.
Lawyers for the ship’s owner, Carnival, argued unsuccessfully that the pollution laws applied only to passenger ships using regular routes, and therefore did not apply to cruise ships.
The prosecution and fine – the first of their kind in France – signal a new seriousness by local authorities to tackle cruise ship pollution.
Marseille has suffered from increasing levels of smog over recent years, and research has found that shipping is responsible for up 20 per cent of the damaging particulate matter in the port city’s air, which can cause respiratory problems and lung disease.
High-sulphur fuel produces sulphur oxides which contribute to acid rain and the acidification of oceans.
Environmental campaigners say shipping is particularly harmful in Marseille – with fine particle levels 100 times higher near the city's bustling port than elsewhere in the city.
Azura can carry more than 3,000 passengers and is one of the largest ships in the fleet operated by P&O Cruises, which in turn is owned by the Carnival Corporation.