For decades, the United States has been aggressively enforcing its environmental laws. Beginning in the mid-1990s and continuing through present, this effort has been directed at the maritime industry through the U.S. Department of Justice's “Vessel Initiative.” The U.S. trend is now being felt in Europe, as exemplified by the European Commission ship-pollution directive, focused on criminal enforcement. With this worldwide focus on prosecuting environmental crimes against the maritime industry, companies must take a hard look at their corporate compliance programs to minimize chances of being targeted for criminal prosecution. This paper will identify worldwide trends, discuss recent criminal prosecutions, and make recommendations on how companies can best protect themselves.

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