Discussions have recently arisen among academics and professionals as to whether Colombia's pollution protection regime for ships carrying crude oil as cargo or bunkers is satisfactory. Thus, now seems like a good time to reopen the debate on whether ratifying the Supplementary Fund Protocol and other international instruments (eg, the Bunkers Convention) could help Colombia to protect itself adequately against this type of incident.
Local authorities in Colombia have found themselves facing the same dilemma that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing everywhere: how to protect public health while at the same time maintaining the operation of commercial activities and the flow of necessary goods to the greatest extent possible. To this end, the Colombian National Maritime Authority has been following International Maritime Organisation guidance and a number of regulations have been issued at the domestic level.
The National Maritime Authority recently published the first draft of what could become the new Colombian maritime code. The draft aims to consolidate the main regulations applicable to maritime activities at the domestic level in a single piece of legislation (ie, a maritime code). Among other things, it incorporates regulations on subjects such as navigation-related issues, contracts for vessel exploitation and court procedures for resolving traditional maritime incidents (eg, collisions).
A new resolution, which was recently released at the local level, has introduced requirements for tugboats operating in Colombian waters. The resolution establishes national rules on the organisation, planification and performance of towage operations in line with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Resolution A 765(18) and other IMO regulations on safety requirements for towed ships and other floating objects.
For local lawyers working in the shipping and transport sector at the domestic level, the question of whether Colombia really is a Hague/Hague-Visby Rules jurisdiction has been posed on many occasions. In particular, despite the fact that Colombia has not yet properly ratified any of the existing instruments available internationally, the relevant section of the Commercial Code has supposedly been founded on the Hague Rules.