The MARPOL Annexes

6 October 2020 By Ted Morley
A yacht at anchor off an island

Capt. Ted Morley was raised aboard a schooner and has made a career working on board vessels ranging from superyachts to super tankers. During his tenure at sea, he worked his way up from seaman to master. He currently holds a USCG Master’s License, Unlimited Tonnage as well as several foreign certificates. Capt. Morley actively participates in maritime advisory committees in the U.S. as well as overseas and is involved in regulatory policy review in the U.S.. 

The 73/78 MARPOL Convention and its related regulatory updates are often one of the most overlooked areas of training. The six Annexes detail record-keeping requirements, what can be discharged or emitted, and where. The regulations apply to all vessel types (private and commercial).

In the UK, MARPOL was given force of law by several new regulations, including the Merchant Shipping Papers and the Merchant Shipping Act of 1988. In the U.S., 33 CFR 151,155-157; 46 CFR 148, and 49 CFR 171-174, 176 all relate and provide guidance on MARPOL. For Australia, the Protection of Sea Act of 1983 and the Navigation Act of 2012 provide the guidance. The IMO 2020 further expands restrictions on air emissions and limits Sulphur and Nitrous Oxide in stack emissions, as well as Ozone Depleting Substances. It’s important to research and understand any amended regulations.

Annex I: petroleum oil products
Annex II and III: bulk and packaged chemicals
Annex IV: discharge of ship sewage
Annex V: garbage
Annex VI: air pollution

Of particular concern within MARPOL are the Special Areas, which have unique rules that further reduce or eliminate discharge(s). Annex 1 has always been stringently enforced and regs such as the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certification for vessels over 400GT, the Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan, and the Oil Record Book. Annex IV requires yachts over 400GT and/or carrying more than 15 persons to have a Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate, and Annex V requires yachts over 400GT and/or carrying more than 15 persons to have a Garbage Management Plan and Garbage Record Book. Annex VI is one of the hardest areas of compliance as many vessels have to retrofit their current configuration or new builds must dedicate more space to emissions equipment. All the engines installed on board yachts of 400GT or more must have an International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate and each engine of 130kw or more must be certified.

Everyone on board has some responsibility for record-keeping and certification requirements. Training and a high level of competence are a must to prevent penalties and restrictions. The special obligations for flag states and the broadened jurisdictions for coastal and port states to enforce MARPOL, including Annex VI, are found within the special provisions of part XII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Many port state compliance officers routinely inspect the records and equipment to ensure pollution prevention measures are in place. Make sure everything is done in a safe, legal, and environmentally responsible manner.

This article originally ran in the October 2020 issue of Dockwalk.


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