Updated: May 27, 2020
The MARPOL Convention, adopted on 2 November 1973, is an international convention for the protection of the marine environment, which is in force world-wide. The Articles of the Convention contain general provisions such as applicable definitions and scope. The Convention additionally comprises two Protocols and six Annexes.
Annex I: Prevention of pollution by Oil
Annex I (in force since 2 October 1983) deals with structural requirements and imposes strict limitations on oil discharges. To ensure compliance with the discharge requirements, special technical equipment has to be installed on ships. Besides, all important shipboard operations, especially operations concerning the treatment and disposal of separator residues and oily bilge water, have to be entered in an Oil Record Book.
Annex II: Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk
Annex II (in force since 6 April 1987) deals with bulk transports of noxious liquid substances, which include cargo residues of chemical tankers. Under the provisions of this Annex, discharges of such substances are prohibited in principle. Exemptions are possible depending on the classification of noxious substances in either category X, Y, or Z. All operations on board ships that involve noxious substances have to be entered in a Cargo Record Book.
Annex III: Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances carried by Sea in Packaged Form
Annex III (in force since 1 July 1992) requires that, in order to prevent pollution of the marine environment, harmful substances in packaged form have to be transported in compliance with the provisions of this Annex, which applies, for example, to dangerous goods transported in containers.
Annex IV: Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ship
Annex IV (in force since 27 September 2003) deals with the prevention or reduction of marine environmental pollution by ships’ sewage. Under the provisions of this Annex, discharges of ships' sewage are prohibited. Vessels can be exempted if they are equipped with a sewage treatment plant or if sewage from a holding tank is discharged at a distance of more than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land. The second ordinance amending environmental regulations in shipping dated 9 April 2008 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 698) made the discharge regulations in Annex VI to MARPOL 73/78 also mandatory for German pleasure craft operating in the Baltic Sea area.
Annex V: Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships
Annex V entered into force on 31 December 1988. Different discharge regulations apply to the different types of ships' garbage. A Garbage Record Book has to be kept in which the treatment and disposal of garbage generated on board the ship has to be fully documented.
Annex VI: Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships
Annex VI entered into force on 19 May 2005. It limits, inter alia, nitrous oxides, sulfur oxides, VOC and PM.