MARPOL (International Convention for Prevention of Marine Pollution For Ships) Explained

The International Convection For Prevention of Marine Pollution For Ships, popularly known as MARPOL or MARPOL 73/78 is one of the most important internationally accepted marine environmental convections. It was developed by the IMO (International Maritime Organization) for the purpose of minimizing the pollution caused to the oceans and seas, by ships. This includes dumping, oil and air pollution caused by the vessels sailing in the international waters, either accidentally, or incidentally.

MARPOL (International Convention for Prevention of Marine Pollution For Ships) Explained.

The alibi of pure oceanic atmosphere has raised the concern regarding the emission of harmful gases from ships. As the shipping industry plays the key role in world economy, it also stands as a major contributing factor of pollution. The solution introduced is MARPOL. It is the second most effective measure, after SOLAS.

Presently, MARPOL 73/78 is in action. It was virtually signed on 17th February 1983 but was came into action on 2nd October 1978 after recommended and necessary amendments in 1978. The MARPOL is carved into six sections (called annexes) for better execution of protocols introduced under each annex. These annexes are further divided on the kind of polluting material and contains specific regulations for dealing with them, in the form of chapters.

 A brief introduction about the annexes are provided in the table below:

Annex TitleCame into Action
Annex – IIncludes the preventive measures for the pollution caused due to oil.2nd October 1983.
Annex – IIIncludes regulations for pollution due to noxious liquid substances in bulk.6th April 1987.
Annex – IIIIncludes protocols for the prevention of pollution caused due to harmful substances carried in sea in packaged form.1st July 1992.
Annex – IVIncludes regulations for preventing pollution due to sewage from ships.27th September 2003.
Annex – VIncludes regulation for the prevention of pollution from the garbage present in ships.13th December 1988.
Annex – VIIncludes protocols for eliminating air pollution from ships.19th May 2005.

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Annex – I: Prevention of Pollution Due To The Untreated Oil Discharge Into The International Waters

MARPOL Annex- I was introduced on 2nd October 1983 with an aim to control and prevent the discharge of contaminated oil from ships into the ocean. This oil discharge criterion was included in this annex, after being prescribed in 1969 amendments to the 1544 OILPOL. MARPOL Annex – I suggests specific features for the tankers in order to minimize oil discharge whether the circumstances of being either incidental or accidental.

The Annex – I is further split into two parts among which the first half extricate with the oil pollution due to engine room waste by praising collaboration of AI and machinery that are used to treat oil, OIL WATER SEPERATOR (OWS) and OIL CONTENT METERS (OCM) are one the most preferred machinery for treating oil before releasing into the sea.

Another half deals mostly with the sanitation of cargo areas and tanks as well as it supports the use of Oil Discharging Monitoring Equipment (ODME). Apart from this, annex- I contains 11 chapters that are further incorporate in 47 regulations.

  • Chapter 1:

Chapter 1 consists of 5 regulations which provides details about the application and ‘Definition’ of various terminologies. These definitions however, may not be applied in case of all the ships around the world. Thus, a separate section consisting of ‘Exemptions’ and ‘Exceptions’ have also been provided in the first chapter.

  • Chapter 2:

This chapter also consist of 5 regulations that covers details about the surveys and certification necessities for all the 150 GT and 400 GT oil tanker ships. 

  • Chapter 3:

Regulation 12 to 17 are stated under this chapter which informs about the mechanical requirements for all the ships.

  • Chapter 4:

It contains 18 regulations (i.e., from 18 to 36) that enlist the requirements of cargo area in an oil tanker ship.

  • Chapter 5:

It explains the measures to prevent the pollution which can arise from oil discharge. The detailed explanation and details regarding Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP) are covered under regulation 37.

  • Chapter 6:

This lists the necessary measures related to the reception facilities for the oil sludge disposed by the ships.

  • Chapter 7:

This notifies about the special requirement for fixed and floating platform to adhere to the Annex – I regulations.

  • Chapter 8:

Talks about the preventive measures for the pollution that holds the probability during transfer of oil between two tankers i.e., Ship to Ship Transfer (STS).

  • Chapter 9:

Carries specific details about the requirement for the oil carriers in the Antarctica region.

  • Chapter 10:

This provides details regarding the procedure involved in verification of compliance.

  • Chapter 11:

Lists the important points regarding the international codes for ships operating in polar waters.

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Annex – II: Regulations For Controlling Pollution Due To Noxious Liquid Substances

MARPOL Annex- II came into action on 6th April 1987. This annex- II states the discharge criterion for eliminating pollution caused by Noxious Liquid Substances, carried in huge quantities. The discharge of pollutants is permitted to certain limits for reception facilities as per the specified concentrations and conditions. MARPOL Annex- II veils the International Bulk Chemical Code (IBC Code) in combination with chapter 7 of SOLAS Convention.

Just like Annex -I, Annex- II also comprises of ten chapters that conjointly contains 22 regulations.

  • Chapter 1:

Alike the chapter 1, of Annex- I, it states the application and definitions of different regulations mentioned under this chapter.

  • Chapter 2:

Describes various categories of Noxious Liquid Substances under the regulation 6.

  • Chapter 3:

It covers the three regulations from 7 to 10 and provides the catalogue regarding the exigency of surveys and certification.

  • Chapter 4:

This covers two regulations 11 and 12 in which, the 11th regulation notifies about the necessities related to the design, construction, equipment and arrangements for the ship to tote Noxious Cargo in bulk while the regulation 12 prescribes the details of piping, pumping, etc.

  • Chapter 5:

It covers regulation 13, 14 and 15 in which it imparts the characteristics of the methodologies to be used while discharging the residue of noxious liquid substances.

  • Chapter 6:

This chapter delineates the role of government and port authorities specifically under the regulation number 16.

  • Chapter 7:

This suggests the measure to prevent pollution arises from incidents that involves noxious liquid substances.

  • Chapter 8:

This lists the requirement for the reception facilities and suggests appropriate regulations.

Just like Annex- I, Chapter 9 and 10 also deals with the matters related to verifications and certifications, and features the crucial requirements related to the International Code for Ships.

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Annex – III: Regulations For The Prevention of Pollution Due To Harmful Packaged Substances Carried Into The Sea

On 1st July 1992, MARPOL Annex- III came into the action. This annex holds general requirements relative to the standards of packing, marking, stowage, labeling and many more for clogging pollution due to harmful substances.

The Annex- III is designed in pursuance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code, that has been protruded to include marine pollutants. It is the only annex that contains least number of chapters and regulations i.e., it contains only 2 chapters and 11 regulations. 

  • Chapter 1:

It covers regulation proposes regulations that describes the procedure involved in application and definition of various terminologies, it lists the necessary measures that need to be carried out for proper packaging and marking, documentation needed while transporting hazardous material as per the annex. Along with that it also states the limitations associated with bulk carriage, and lists the exceptions and authorization details.

  • Chapter 2:

While the chapter 1 deals with a variety of details, this chapter notifies only about the details related to the verification of compliance.

Annex – IV: Regulations For The Prevention of Pollution Due To Sewage From Ships

MARPOL Annex-IV was brought into force on 27th September 2003. It comprises of necessary measures that need to be carried out for inhibiting the pollution of sea from the sewage discharged from the ships. This Annex- IV permits the discharge of non-contaminating and disinfecting sewage at a distance of more than 3 nautical miles from the nearest terrestrial area, if the sewage has gone through proper treatment. Simultaneously, it prohibits the discharging of untreated sewage within the range of 12 nautical miles.

Annex- IV contains seven chapters which accommodates 18 regulations within it.

  • Chapter 1:

Similar to the previous annexes, this chapter describes the “definitions” of different terminologies as well as the “application” of the stated regulations.

  • Chapter 2:

This chapter describes the details in a catalog format which contains the need fot the conduction of surveys and certifications.

  • Chapter 3:

It endows us with the need for the installation of important equipment onboard ships so that standard treatment can be done before releasing them into the sea.

  • Chapter 4:

This Chapter details about the compliance of reception facilities that needs to be carried out by the government authorities and, it also provides the requirement of reception facilities for the passenger ships.

  • Chapter 5:

Regulation 14, stated under this chapter describes the role played by the government and port authorities for conducting surveys and accessing the ships and vessels according to the MARPOL Annex- IV.

  • Chapter 6:

As usual this chapter contains protocols for verification of compliance.

  • Chapter 7:

It lists down the prime requirements on International Code for Ships operating in international waters.

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Annex – V: Regulation For The Elimination of Pollution

This annex, conveys the measure to prevent the pollution produced due to garbage onboard ships. Along with that, it specifies the remoteness from land in which garbage can be disposed as per the guidelines. The key feature of this MARPOL Annex- V is the imposition of complete ban on the disposal of all kinds of plastic into the sea. This annex, comes with three chapters and fourteen regulations.

  • Chapter 1:

Here also, this chapter provides us with the matter related to definitions and applications of regulations for different ships.

  • Chapter 2:

Again, verification of compliance and related regulations are discussed under this chapter.

  • Chapter 3:

This chapter details about the purpose behind the proposal of this annex and catalog the measure on the international code for the ships sailing in polar waters.

Annex – VI: Regulations For The Prevention of Air Pollution From Ships

MARPOL Annex- VI has been introduced in favor of the atmospheric pollution due to the emission of harmful gases by the ships. Addition to that, it sets the limit on the use of nitrogen and sulphur oxides in the form of fuel as well as it has restricted some areas from emission through ships.

This MARPOL Annex- VI came into force on 19th May 2005 with 5 chapters and 25 regulations included in it.

  • Chapter 1:

Apart from application and definition of regulations prescribed, this chapter contains a specific section for ‘Exceptions’ and ‘Exemptions’ which describes the powers of administrator, to whom the power for opting the alternatives remains.

  • Chapter 2:

It specifically details about the various surveys that need to be conducted in regular interval of time for having an eye on the operation of the equipment installed to prevent air pollution. These regulations are followed by the measures favoring International Air Pollution Prevention (IOPP) Certificates and International Energy Efficiency Certificate (IEEC).

  • Chapter 3:

This chapter notifies about the reasons behind the imposition of prohibition for controlling the emission from ships and also holds the regulation that veils thee details of the ozone-depleting substances.

  • Chapter 4:

This keenly talks about regulation based on Energy Efficiency of Ship and the application of this chapter on the ship of 400 GT and more.

  • Chapter 5:

With this chapter, MARPOL regulations are ended by covering last two regulations regarding the verification of compliances and states the principle of this convention.

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On the Whole, it can be said MARPOL acts as the second rigid pillar standing alongside SOLAS, for protecting ocean environment and life of seafarers. MARPOL has gone through periodic amendments according to the requirement of the contemporary scenario and it will continue to going through such processes whenever requirement is realized by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

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