Amendments that will help Bermuda respond as quickly as possible to marine pollution incidents were approved in the House of Assembly on Friday without objection.

Minister of Tourism and Transport, Zane DeSilva said the Merchant Shipping Amendment Act would allow him to take the helm, so to speak, to give directions to a ship or a ship owner in the wake of a marine accident that could pollute local waters.

Under this new legislation, the Minister would also be allowed to order the ship to remain in place or move by a specified route to prevent environmental damage or ensure safety.

The amendments are also designed to help speed up the process of updating maritime legislation by allowing “ambulatory references” to international maritime regulations.

When Bermuda’s, the change means it would refer to the latest version of the international regulations instead of the version in effect when the Bermuda legislation was signed.

The Minister noted that the amendments will help the island keep up with changes in international maritime law and that the Minister “will always have the power to prevent any unwanted amendments from coming into place”.