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MARPOL is an extremely significant international marine international environmental law. The term MARPOL is actually short for marine pollution. 


MARPOL – The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships or vessels is the fundamental international convention, which simply covers the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships or vessels from any operational or accidental causes.

MARPOL was organized and developed by IMO or International Maritime Organization to promote a clean and healthy environment of the seas and oceans. Basically, this is realized by following rules in minimizing pollution, which incorporates air pollution, oil, and dumping pattern. Substantially, the aim of MARPOL is to safeguard or protect the marine life in an effort to entirely eradicate pollution by oil and other detrimental elements. And as well, to lessen the accidental spilling of harmful substances in seas and oceans.

In essence, the very first MARPOL was actually subscribed on February 17, 1973. However, this has not been applied fully after it was signed. The present convention is a sequence of the 1973 convention and the Protocol of 1978. Such was being enforced on October 2, 1983. And, as of the year 2016, April, the one hundred fifty-four states are involved in the assembly. Specifically, being flag states of the 98.7% of the shipping tonnage around the world.



All ships or vessels flagged under the countries that are undersigned to MARPOL are in essence, subject to its regulations.


Precisely, this is fulfilled regardless of where these ships navigate and member nations are in charge for ships recorded on their national ship registry. The MARPOL encompasses control or governance intended to prevent and minimize pollution from vessels. Particularly, the accidental pollution and from operational routines. And, at present, six specialized annexes, which define strict regulations on operational or functional discharges.

Annex 1 – Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil

This regulation was entered into force on October 2, 1983. This particularly entails the determent of pollution by oil from operational procedures. As well, from any accidental discharges. The amendments made in 1992 to Annex 1 made it obligatory for recent oil tankers to have double hulls. And, be settled in a phase-in schedule for current tankers in order to fit double hulls that were later updated in 2001 and 2003.

Annex 2 – Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substance in Bulk 

Similar to Annex 1, this control was entered into force on October 2, 1983. Basically, Annex 2 defines the discharge principles and scopes for pollution control by noxious liquid substances, which are carried in bulk. Some two hundred fifty substances were examined and became part of the list affixed to the Convention. Specifically, the discharge of their leftover parts is permitted only to reception facilities until precise conditions and concentrations are coordinated. This substantially differs with the group of substances. In any event, no discharge of silts or residues containing noxious substances is allowed within twelve miles from the nearest land.



Annex 3 – Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form

Entered into force on July 1, 1992, Annex 3 of MARPOL generally incorporates the rules for issuing detailed standards on the following items:

  • packing
  • marking
  • labeling
  • documentation
  • quantity
  • stowage
  • limitations
  • exceptions
  • notifications
Furthermore, for the purpose of Annex 3, the term “harmful substances” denote substances that are determined as marine pollutants. Specifically, defined in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code). Or, that meet the basis stated in the Annex 3 appendix.

Annex 4 – Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from ships

This standard was entered into force on September 27, 2003. In particular, Annex 4 associates with the factors to control sea pollution by sewage. The discharge of sewage into the sea is absolutely restricted. However, exceptions apply to the following situations:

  • the vessel is in the operation of an approved sewage treatment plant
  • the vessel is discharging squashed and decontaminated sewage utilizing an approved system at a distance of more than 3 nautical miles from the nearest shore or land
  • moreover, sewage that is not comminuted or decontaminated has to be expelled at a distance of more than twelve nautical miles from the nearest shore or land


Annex 5 – Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships

Annex 5 specifically details the diverse types of garbage and identify the distances from land and the manner of their disposal. This Annex was entered into force on December 31, 1988. In addition, the most significant feature of this Annex is the complete ban instituted on the discharging of all plastic forms into the sea.

Annex 6 – Prevention of Air Pollution From Ships

Annex 6 was entered into force on May 19, 2005. This standard particularly establishes limits on nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emissions from the exhausts of vessels or ships. Furthermore, this constraint gradual emissions of ozone-depleting elements; labeled emission control locations set more rigid standards for NOx, SOx, and particulate matter.  A chapter adopted in 2011 settles mandatory technical and operational energy efficiency methods aimed at minimizing greenhouse house gas emissions from ships.