Intervention by authorities

The right of a coastal state to take measures on the high seas to protect its environmental interests after a maritime casualty was reinforced by the Intervention Convention 1969.

The Convention was concerned only with measures beyond the limits of the territorial sea, as up to that point there are few restrictions on sovereign rights.  However it has been widely adopted as a model for national laws prescribing governmental powers in all coastal and adjacent waters.

Cases of active intervention have been few in comparison with those where authorities have preferred to oversee response operations by contractors engaged by ship interests, and to direct these as and when considered appropriate.  Their main concerns have typically focused on such matters as towage assistance being accepted without delay, and priority being given to removal of bunker fuel and other pollutants from a damaged or stranded vessel.

Some of the most difficult issues have arisen where damaged ships have sought access to places of refuge.