MARPOL 73/78

At the international level, the issue of preventing pollution from ships was considered for the first time in 1926 in Washington at a conference of representatives of 13 states. The United States at this conference proposed to introduce a complete ban on oil discharges from naval vessels and warships.

It was decided to establish a system of coastal zones in which the discharge of an oil mixture with an oil content exceeding 0.05% would be prohibited. The determination of the width of such zones was left to the discretion of States, but it should not exceed 50 miles. In order to avoid the discharge of ballast water on ships, the installation of separators was encouraged. The flag State had to require vessels to comply with the established no-go zones. A preliminary draft Convention was created, which was never adopted.

The Council of the League of Nations in 1936 decided to convene an international conference to consider the project, but further events in the world made it impossible to convene a conference.

After the end of the Second World War, the issue was raised again at the UN. Many States stressed the need to take measures to prevent pollution at the international level. In 1954, at the initiative of Great Britain, an international conference was convened in London, at which it was adoptedInternational Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by OILPOL-54. This was the first international agreement on the prevention of marine pollution from ships, it entered into force on July 26, 1958.

The 1954 Convention tried to solve the problem in two ways: 

1. The establishment of "Restricted Zones" extending, as a rule, 50 miles from the coast, in which the discharge of oil and oil mixture in the proportion of 100 or more parts of oil per 1 million parts of the mixture (100 mg/l) was prohibited;

2. Equipment in each main port of receiving facilities capable of receiving from vessels using this port, which are not tankers, remaining on the vessel oil from oil-contaminated ballast or washing water from tanks, provided that such water has passed the separation process using oil separators, settling tank or other means.

The Conference provided for the convening of a new conference to take additional measures three years after the entry into force of the Convention. Thus, in 1962, the MMCO convened an International Conference at which the first amendments to the 1954 Convention were adopted.

The 1962 amendments increased the size of the "no-go zones to 100 and 150 miles, and also included tankers with a gross capacity of more than 150 tons in the scope of the Convention (previously, the actions extended to tankers with a capacity of 500 tons or more).

In 1969, the Convention was substantially supplemented by amendments regulating the rules for the discharge of ballast water from a tanker under the following conditions:

  1. The total number of them in a ballast voyage should not exceed 1/15000 of the total cargo capacity of the tanker.
  2. The instantaneous discharge intensity should not exceed 60 liters per mile of travel.
  3. The discharge cannot be carried out closer than 50 miles from the shore. 

The OILPOL-54 Convention was amended and supplemented. However, the low effectiveness of this international agreement on the prevention of marine oil pollution in the context of rapidly developing oil transportation was recognized.

The need for global protection of the world's oceans from pollution became obvious already in 1973.International Maritime Organization - IMO acceptedInternational Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL-73)

After acceptanceMARPOL-73conventionOILPOL-54it stopped working.

By 1978 , the participantsMARPOL-73only three states have become. By this time, as a result of tanker accidents, new requirements had already been formulated, which had to be included in MARPOL-73. In February 1978, an International Conference on Tanker Safety and Prevention of Marine Pollution was held in London, which was attended by 62 States. As a result of the Conference, two protocols were adopted on February 17, one of which was the protocol of 1978 toInternational Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973G. (MARPOL-78 Protocol).

The MARPOL-78 Protocol became a completely independent document in relation to MARPOL-73 and included all the provisions of MARPOL-73 (Article I of the Protocol).

The Protocol of 1978 entered into force on October 2, 1983 and its participants are currently over 90 States whose gross tonnage of vessels is approximately 90% of the gross tonnage of the world merchant fleet. 

The 1973 Convention, as amended by the 1978 Protocol, is now known asInternational Convention for the Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Ships (MARPOL-73/78).

The Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78) consists of the Convention and its Protocols, which enshrine general provisions on the obligations of the parties to prevent pollution of the sea with specific pollutants: oil, harmful chemicals transported in bulk, substances transported in packaged form, sewage, garbage and air pollution from ships.

The Convention contains general definitions of such concepts as ship, harmful substance, discharge and others, supplemented in each of the Annexes. Vessels as defined by this Convention are all vessels, including hovercrafts and hydrofoils, underwater vessels, stationary and floating platforms.

Warships and State-owned non-commercial vessels are excluded from the scope of the Convention, but the parties must ensure that they also act in accordance with the Convention, if possible. The Convention provides that any violation of it, including Annexes, is prohibited regardless of the place of its commission, and penalties should be established for such violation in the legislation of each State party to the Convention, under whose flag the vessel sails.

In the ConventionMARPOL-73/78Measures are envisaged to reduce and prevent environmental pollution by harmful substances that are transported on ships or formed during their operation.

Regulations covering various sources of pollution from ships are currently contained in six Annexes to MARPOL-73/78.

  • Annex I Rules for the prevention of oil pollution. Entered into force on 02.10.83
  • Annex II Rules for the prevention of pollution by harmful liquid substances transported in bulk. Entered into force on 06.04.87 .
  • Annex III Rules for the prevention of pollution by harmful substances transported by sea in packaging, cargo containers, removable tanks, road tanks. Entered into force on 01.07.92
  • Annex IV Rules for the prevention of sewage pollution from ships. It entered into force on 01.08.05 on the basis of the Resolution MERS 115(51) adopted on 22.04.04.
  • Annex V Rules for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships. Entered into force on 31.12.89
  • Annex VI Rules for the prevention of atmospheric pollution from ships. Entered into force on 01.01.05.

Currently, the MARPOL-73/78 Convention consists of three books.

  • Book I reproduces the current text of the provisions of the articles, Protocols and five Annexes of the Convention.
  • Book II contains interpretations of the provisions of MARPOL-73/78, as well as on the implementation of its annexes in order to ensure uniformity of actions in international maritime and legal practice.
  • Book III it contains Annex VI and the Technical Code for the Control of Nitrogen Oxide Emissions during the Operation of Marine Engines.