The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) is a global agreement that aims to prevent pollution from ships and maritime activities. It was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, and came into force on October 2, 1983. MARPOL has been amended several times to address emerging environmental concerns and improve pollution prevention measures.

MARPOL: The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships

MARPOL: The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships

Key features of MARPOL include:

  1. Annexes: MARPOL consists of six annexes, each addressing specific types of pollution and prescribing regulations to prevent or minimize them. The annexes are as follows:a. Annex I: Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil. It covers the prevention of oil pollution from ships, including measures for oil tankers, offshore support vessels, and all other types of ships.

    b. Annex II: Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk. It sets out regulations for the control of pollution by chemical substances carried in bulk on ships.

    c. Annex III: Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form. It addresses the prevention of pollution from packaged dangerous goods, such as chemicals, in packaged form.

    d. Annex IV: Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships. It establishes standards and regulations for the treatment and discharge of sewage from ships.

    e. Annex V: Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships. It regulates the disposal of garbage from ships, including plastics, food waste, and other types of waste materials.

    f. Annex VI: Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships. It sets emission limits for air pollutants, such as sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and other harmful substances emitted from ship exhausts.

  2. Flag states and port states: MARPOL assigns responsibilities to both flag states (the country in which a ship is registered) and port states (the country where the ship is operating or visiting). Flag states are responsible for ensuring that ships flying their flag comply with MARPOL regulations. Port states have the authority to inspect and take enforcement measures against visiting ships to ensure compliance.
  3. Survey and certification: Ships are required to undergo surveys and obtain relevant certificates to demonstrate compliance with MARPOL regulations. These certificates include the International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) Certificate, the International Pollution Prevention (IPP) Certificate, and the International Air Pollution Prevention (IAPP) Certificate, among others.
  4. Control measures: MARPOL prescribes various control measures to prevent pollution from ships, including requirements for the design, construction, and operation of ships, as well as measures related to the handling, storage, and disposal of pollutants.
  5. Special areas: MARPOL designates specific areas, known as “Special Areas,” where additional measures and stricter regulations are implemented to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems. These areas include the Antarctic area, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, and the Caribbean Sea, among others.

MARPOL has been widely ratified by countries worldwide, making it one of the most significant international conventions for environmental protection in the maritime sector. Its regulations play a crucial role in minimizing the environmental impact of shipping activities and ensuring the sustainable use of marine resources.