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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Section 236: Enforcement of marine licensing regime

624.This section sets out the areas in which and the vessels and installations in relation to which an MEO may exercise his enforcement powers for the purposes of enforcing the marine licensing regime set out in Part 4 of the Act. The enforcement powers that may be exercised by an MEO for enforcing licensing legislation are the common enforcement powers in Chapter 2 and the specific powers relating to requirements for information about certain substances and objects in Chapter 3 (see section 263).

625.The area where enforcement powers may be used is set out in subsection (9) as the relevant enforcement area. However, by virtue of subsection (3)(d), MEOs may also exercise their powers in Scotland and the Scottish inshore region where they are investigating an offence suspected of being committed within the relevant enforcement area. They may use their powers in the Scottish offshore region only if they are in “domestic hot pursuit”.

626.“Domestic hot pursuit” is similar to the international agreement under UNCLOS for pursuit of a vessel, and allows pursuit of a vessel, marine installation or aircraft across national jurisdictions within the UK. Domestic hot pursuit is triggered if the officer has given a signal to stop which is ignored and the vessel leaves the relevant enforcement area and travels into an area where the officer would not otherwise be able to exercise his powers, such as the Scottish offshore region. Pursuit must be continuous, although the pursuing officer, vessel, etc. may change. It allows the officer to use powers under the Act in another jurisdiction within the UK, if the officer does not otherwise have powers in that area. This power does not affect any powers the officer might have under international law.

627.The section provides that MEOs may not use their powers to enforce the marine licensing regime to the extent that it relates to any activity in Wales or the Welsh inshore region concerning or arising from the exploration for, or production of, petroleum or anything done in the course of taking installation abandonment measures in any other part of the relevant enforcement area.

628.Outside the UK marine area, the powers may be exercised in relation to any British vessel, aircraft or marine structure or any vessel which was loaded within the relevant enforcement area.

629.Only an officer of the Armed Services may exercise enforcement powers in relation to a warship.

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