Marpol 73/78 is the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978. ("Marpol" is short for marine pollution and 73/78 short for the years 1973 and 1978.)
Marpol 73/78 is one of the most important international marine environmental conventions. It was brought about in an effort to minimize pollution of the oceans and seas, including dumping, oil and air pollution. The objective of this convention is to preserve the marine environment in an attempt to completely eliminate pollution by oil and other harmful substances and to minimize accidental spillage of such substances.
The original MARPOL was signed on February 17,1973, but did not come into force at the signing date. The current convention is a combination of 1973 Convention and the 1978 Protocol. It entered into force on October 2, 1983. As of May 2013, 152 states, representing 99.2 per cent of the world's shipping tonnage, are involved with the convention.
All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its requirements, regardless of where they sail and member nations are responsible for vessels registered under their respective nationalities.
|Annex||Title||Entry into force||No. of Contracting Parties/Statesα||% of the World Tonnageβ|
|Annex I||prevention of pollution by oil & oily water||2 October 1983|
|Annex II||control of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk||6 April 1987|
|Annex III||prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form||1 July 1992||138||97.59|
|Annex IV||pollution by sewage from ships||27 September 2003|
|Annex V||pollution by garbage from ships||31 December 1988|
|Annex VI||Prevention of air pollution from ships||19 May 2005||72||94.70|
Marpol Annex I started to be enforced on October 2nd, 1983. It details the discharge requirements for the prevention of pollution by oil and oily materials. It states the oil discharge criteria prescribed in the 1969 amendments to the 1954 Oil Pollution Convention. It also introduces the concept of "special areas" which are considered to be at risk to pollution by oil. Spillage of oil within them have been completely outlawed, with a few minimal exceptions.
Marpol Annex II started to be enforced on April 6, 1987. It details the discharge criteria for the elimination of pollution by noxious liquid substances carried in large quantities. It divides substances into and introduces detailed operational standards and measures. The discharge of pollutants is allowed only to reception facilities with certain concentrations and conditions. No matter what, no discharge of residues containing pollutants is permitted within 12 miles of the nearest land. Stricter restrictions apply to "special areas".
Marpol Annex III started to be enforced on July 1, 1992. It contains general requirements for the standards on packing, marking, labelling, documentation, stowage, quantity limitations, exceptions and notifications for preventing pollution by noxious substances. The Annex is in line with the procedures detailed in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, which has been expanded to include marine pollutants. The amendments entered into force on January 1, 1991.
Marpol Annex IV started to be enforced on September 22, 2003. It introduces requirements to control pollution of the sea by sewage from ships.
Marpol Annex V started to be enforced on December 31, 1988. It specifies the distances from land in which materials may be disposed of and subdivides different types of garbage. The requirements are much stricter in a number of "special areas" but perhaps the most prominent part of the Annex is the complete ban of dumping plastic into the ocean.
Marpol Annex VI started to be enforced on May 19, 2005. It introduces requirements to regulate the air pollution being emitted by ships, including the emission of ozone-depleting substances, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulphur Oxides (SOx), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and shipboard incineration. It also establishes requirements for reception facilities for wastes from exhaust gas cleaning systems, fuel oil quality, for off-shore platforms and drilling rigs and for the establishment of SOx Emission Control Areas (SECAs).
Marpol Annex VI amendments according with MEPC 176(58) came into force 1 July 2010.
Amended Regulations 12 concerns control and record keeping of Ozone Depleting Substances.
Implementation and enforcement
In order for IMO standards to be binding, they must first be ratified by a total number of member countries whose combined gross tonnage represents at least 50% of the world's gross tonnage, a process that can be lengthy. A system of tacit acceptance has therefore been put into place, whereby if no objections are heard from a member state after a certain period has elapsed, it is assumed they have assented to the treaty.
All six Annexes have been ratified by the requisite number of nations; the most recent is Annex VI, which took effect in May 2005. The country where a ship is registered (Flag State) is responsible for certifying the ship's compliance with MARPOL's pollution prevention standards. Each signatory nation is responsible for enacting domestic laws to implement the convention and effectively pledges to comply with the convention, annexes, and related laws of other nations. In the United States, for example, the relevant implementation legislation is the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
One of the difficulties in implementing MARPOL arises from the very international nature of maritime shipping. The country that the ship visits can conduct its own examination to verify a ship's compliance with international standards and can detain the ship if it finds significant noncompliance. When incidents occur outside such country's jurisdiction or jurisdiction cannot be determined, the country refers cases to flag states, in accordance with MARPOL. A 2000 GAO report documented that even when referrals have been made, the response rate from flag states has been poor.
In Europe, 1st January 2015 Maritime shipping levels is to become legally subject to new MARPOL directives because the SECA (Sulphur Emission Controlled Areas) zone is due to increase in size. This larger SECA zone will include the North Sea, Scandinavia, and parts of the English Channel. This area is set to include all of the Republic of Ireland's international waters in 2020 culminating in all of Western Europe's subjection to the MARPOL directive. This has proven controversial for shipping and ferry operators across Europe.
Concerns have been raised about the environmental damage moving back to the roads by some of the larger ferry operators that ship substantial amounts of freight and passenger traffic via these routes affected by IMO standards. They claim that MARPOL will drive up ferry costs for the consumer and freight forwarding companies pushing them back onto the European roadways as a financially more cost effective measure compared to increased ferry costs, thereby defeating the object of reducing water pollution.
- Crude oil washing
- Marine energy management
- Marine fuel management
- Merchant Shipping (Pollution) Act 2006
- Ship pollution
- Oil Pollution Act of 1990
- New Low pollution LNG-ship Grace
- Marpol Annex I
- Oily water separators
- Oily water separator (marine)
- Oil content meter
- Port Reception Facilities
- Copeland, Claudia. "Cruise Ship Pollution: Background, Laws and Regulations, and Key Issues" (Order Code RL32450). Congressional Research Service (Updated 6 February 2008). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Summary of Status of Conventions, www.imo.org
- "MARPOL73-78: Brief history - list of amendments to date and where to find them". MARPOL73-78: Brief history - list of amendments to date and where to find them. IMO. 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to MARPOL.|
- International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78)
- Amendments to the Annex of the Protocol of 1978 relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, Treaty available in ECOLEX-the gateway to environmental law (English)
- IMO Overview of Emission Control Areas