Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships
Ocean pollution from maritime activity is widespread, and is harmful to many ecosystems and industries. It kills wildlife, disrupts coral reefs, affects the food chain in ecosystems, and can make drinking water and seafood unsafe for human consumption.
Ocean dumping happens far from the eyes of regulators, and whistleblowers are critical to the enforcement of these rules. The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (“APPS”), which implements the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (“MARPOL”), has a whistleblower reward provision, which helps to incentivize and enable workers to come forward and combat pollution.
Violations of APPS include the dumping of oil-based pollutants and other identified noxious liquids. Violations can also involve keeping a false “Oil Record Book,” a logbook of all relevant discharges that ships over a certain size are required to accurately maintain.
The law’s whistleblower award clause provides that the government “may pay from any fines or civil penalties collected under this section an amount not to exceed one-half of the penalty or fine collected, to any individual who furnishes information which leads to the payment of the penalty or fine.” By 2016, the APPS program had generated over $30 million in whistleblower rewards.