MARPOL 73/78 – A General Overview

MARPOL 73/78, since it came into force in 1973 and later revised by the protocol in 1978, ensures that shipping remains the least environmentally damaging modes of transport. It clearly highlights the points to ensure that marine environment is preserved by elimination of pollution by all harmful substance which can be discharged from ship.


Marpol Annex V
Annex V was revised in 2011 with new rules entered into force on the 1 January 2013

MARPOL 73/78

This marine environmental convention consists of six implemented Annexes for controlling and eliminating of marine pollution.

Annex I:  Regulation for prevention of pollution by oil  from operational measures as well as from accidental discharges.


Key relations: 

1. Ballasting or cleaning of cargo oil tanks (Emcy’ ballast, Crude oil Washing – COW)
2. Discharge of dirty ballast or cleaning water from cargo oil tanks (Tank wasing)
3. Collection and disposal of oil residues (Stripping, line blowing, drip tray, sludge and other oil residues)
4. Discharge overboard or disposal otherwise of bilge water which has accumulated in machinery spaces – (Oily mixtures discharge from E/R)
5. Bunkering of fuel or bulk lubricating oil.
6. Testing alarm/ Cleaning of 15ppm bilge separator unit
7. For all oil tankers of 150 GT and above and all ships of 400 GT and above other than an oil tankers

See the ODME system for understanding.

Annex II/ IBC: Regulations for control of pollution by Noxious Liquid Substance in bulk, in general called “ Chemical “.


Key relations:

1. Chemical under water discharge 
2. Chemical category  (X, Y, Z & OS) – See the IBC code.
3. Ship type ( IMO Ship Type I, II, III )
4. Cargo stripping capacity ( Oil remain in C.O.T after stripping )                                            

5. Cargo Record Book – CRB

See the SHIP IMO TYPES for understanding.

Annex III/ IMDG: Regulation for prevention of pollution by harmful substance carried at sea in packaged form, in general called “marine pollutants“,  in May 2002, IMO adopted adopted the IMDG-The International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code in a mandatory form 

Key relations:


“The regulations require the issuing of detailed standards on packaging, marking, labelling, documentation, stowage, quantity limitations, exceptions and notifications, for preventing or minimizing pollution by harmful substances”

Annex IV: Regulation for prevention of pollution by sewage from ships.


Key notes:

1. Ship over 400 GT or resisted more than 15 persons to be quipped with Sewage Treatment Management System
2. The Size of Sewage holding tank and adequate connections to reception facilities
3. Control of discharge Sewage ( 3-12 miles from shore at least 4 knots )

Annex V: Regulation for prevention of pollution by Garbage from ships.


Key notes:

1. Garbage management plan and record to be kept.
2. The Size of Garbage before discharge ( max.25mm )

MARPOL 2016, Annex V, Reg. 4.1.1 “3 nautical miles from the nearest land for food wastes which have been passed through a comminuter or grinder. Such comminuted or ground food wastes shall be capable of passing through a screen with openings no greater than 25 mm.” – for the food disposer.
3. Control of discharge Garbage ( 3-12-25 miles from shore )

The special areas established under Annex V are:
 the Mediterranean Sea
 the Baltic Sea Area
 the Black Sea area
 the Red Sea Area
 the Gulfs area
 the North Sea
 the Wider Caribbean Region and
 Antarctic Area

Annex VI: Regulation for prevention of Air pollution from ships.


Regulation 12: Ozone depleting substances (ODS)
Regulation 13: Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
Regulation 14: Sulphur oxides and Particulate Matter (SOx)
Regulation 15: Volatile organic compounds (VOC)
Regulation 16: Shipboard Incineration Exhaust

An example of Marpol compliance on Passenger Carrier

Additionally, Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) stands with MARPOL as two solid pillars that support the maritime industry by protecting the most important issues – marine pollution prevention and safety of human life.

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