The Round Table of international shipping industry organisations (BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO) condemned the contravention of the Law of the Sea Convention by coastal states in the wake of the "Prestige" incident. In a joint statement the four organisations said: "Inevitably political and public feelings run high after a major pollution incident, and everyone naturally and understandably sympathises fully with the people of Galicia in their current difficulties. But that is no justification for the blatantly illegal action taken by the Governments of Spain and France in ordering a number of foreign ships out of their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone.”
The statement continues “Merchant ships are entitled to freedom of navigation through the EEZ, and such flouting of international obligations by two important maritime nations sets an inexcusable and damaging precedent which should be strongly opposed by other nations worldwide. We have urged the two states so far directly affected, Malta and Bahamas, to take this matter up with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg as a matter of urgency. Sovereign states must be curbed from believing that they can take the law into their own hands with impunity. They should remember that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea covers issues far wider than environmental protection - defence, fishing, underwater exploration. Would coastal states be so dismissive of their commitments to international law if defence was the issue?"
The four organisations also called on the EU members to honour their long-stated support for IMO and the principle of international regulation, and to avoid regional measures in the aftermath of the sinking of the "Prestige".