The Legal Framework
The increasing concern within States about the protection of the environment has been matched by international concern about the pollution of the seas, particularly by oil. In support of the contention that there is a customary legal regime governing pollution of the seas, reference may be made also to the doctrine of abuse of rights. At the municipal level within the UK, there has been only one decision in which the common law on oil pollution has been at issue. There are rules of customary international law and of common law concerning pollution is clear. Accidents, such as the strandings of the Torrey Canyon and, more recently, the Amoco Cadiz, can result in enormous quantities of oil escaping into the sea. There are no special statutory provisions regulating the manning of oil tankers, so the requirements about training and competence of masters and crews are to be found in the general Merchant Shipping legislation.