The concept of 'places of refuge' comes from the Convention on Maritime Safety of 1989. The term 'port of refuge' had emerged earlier in maritime practice. Resolution A.949/23/ of the General Assembly of the IMO, from 5 December 2004, speaks of 'places of refuge' for ships in need of help. Directive 2002/59/WE of the European Parliament and Council, setting up a community system of monitoring and of information on the movement of vessels, and abrogating Council Directive 93/75/EWG, introduced places of refuge, drawing on the 'Guidelines' of the IMO. IMO Resolution A.949/23/ became the legal norm valid in Member States. The decree of the Polish Minister for Maritime Economy from 14 September 2007, as executive implementation of legislation of 20 April 2004, concerning a change of legislation in the matter of maritime safety, sets out a plan for offering refuge in Polish maritime waters to vessels that find themselves in danger. The author accepts that a place of refuge may be a natural spot that is appropriate for this purpose, and also a place specially constructed for vessels in danger. It may also be an existing port or part of one.