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The Master should always seek immediate assistance if
his/her vessel has caused pollution, irrespective of the type
of pollution involved!

For further details please see section 3.12 Pollution.

A. Pollution by oil
Pollution by oil and oily substances causes considerable harm to animals and plants as well as damage to third party property during clean-up. Some affected property cannot be cleaned or repaired and must be replaced. Pollution by oil cargoes receives a lot of attention in the media but is actually a minor contributor to oil pollution world-wide. The most common type of pollution is caused by bunker heavy fuel oil. Pollution by heavy fuel oil is serious due to its chemical consistency and properties thus

  • having a more harmful impact on the maritime environment
  • making clean-up more difficult and expensive.

    Pollution by fuel oil can occur

  • during bunkering operations
    – alongside the berth
    – on the roads
    – in the open sea
  • during shipboard operations such as re-pumping and/or ballasting measures
  • due to an accident
    – collision
    – contact with FFO
    – grounding
    – structural failure of the vessel
  • as a deliberate act of discharging oil or oily substances into the sea, which may constitute a criminal act.

    During bunkering operations, whether in port, alongside or at anchor, utmost care and attention is required by all crew members involved. Bunkering must be carried out in strict conformity with the Company’s Shipboard Operations for Bunkering.

    The prevention of pollution by oil is covered by MARPOL 73/78 Annex I.

    B. Pollution by noxious liquid substances
    Pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk, i.e. chemicals, is rare and occurs mainly during cargo operations or as a consequence of an accident such as a collision or structural failure. However, the damage to the environment may be catastrophic, depending on the nature of the chemicals escaping from the vessel, and the effects are immediate and long lasting. The prevention of pollution by noxious liquid substances is covered by MARPOL 73/78 Annex II.

    C. Pollution by harmful substances – dangerous goods
    Pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form occurs occasionally by accident when cargo is lost overboard and to a lesser extent during cargo operations. The prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form is covered by MARPOL 73/78 Annex III.

    D. Pollution by sewage
    Pollution by sewage has become a problem due to the increased awareness of protection of the marine environment. More stringent regulations to prevent pollution by sewage and thus avoid detrimental effects on the marine environment and its flora and fauna have been required due to the increasing number of passengers carried by sea. MARPOL 73/78 Annex IV sets out regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships.

    E. Pollution by garbage
    Pollution by disposal of ship’s garbage is not only prohibited under MARPOL Annex V but also constitutes a criminal offence similar to pollution by oil in most jurisdictions.

    Pollution by garbage is mainly caused by careless or intentional disposal overboard. It has various impacts on the environment. Garbage not only pollutes beaches and estuaries but also harms marine fauna. It can seriously disrupt factories which are located on waterways and use water for cooling purposes, by blocking their suction cages.

    In ports with garbage disposal facilities, garbage disposal should be carried out in accordance with the vessel’s Garbage Management Plan.

    Garbage includes

  • ship’s domestic waste
  • wrappings from provisions and stores delivered on board
  • remnants and sweepings from the cargo holds.

    The prevention of pollution by garbage is covered by MARPOL 73/78 Annex V. The Master and his/her officers are advised to refer to Annex V for a detailed definition of “garbage”.

    F. Pollution by ballast water
    Ballast water from vessels is one of the major sources of the global introduction and spread of harmful aquatic organism and pathogens.

    On 1 December 1997, the IMO Assembly adopted Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water to Minimize the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organism and Pathogens (A20/Res.868).

    On the basis of this resolution and the US National Invasive Species Act of 1996, the US Coast Guard introduced both regulations and voluntary guidelines on 1 July 1999, to control the invasion of aquatic organism and pathogens which

  • amend existing regulations for the Great Lakes Ecosystem
  • establish voluntary ballast water management guidelines for all US waters
  • establish mandatory reporting for nearly all vessels entering US waters.

    A Master trading to the US or areas where similar regulations are in force should make enquiries with the local agents before entering the relevant Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles) regarding how to comply with the ballast treatment programme in force.

    The Master should ensure that he/she is familiar with all relevant local and international requirements in force. Certain port States have imposed significant control procedures, detentions and fines on vessels discharging ballast water in their jurisdictions. For example, ballast water cannot be discharged in some countries without permission and the authorities in others often impose large fines for discharges of clean water.

    G. Air pollution
    Air pollution is caused by deficiencies in vessels’ exhaust pipe filters when burning heavy fuel oils. Air pollution from exhaust gases is said to contribute to global warming and can only be reduced by achieving a more efficient combustion of fuel oils.

    Although less prevalent today, pollution of air by soot from the ship’s funnel may still occur. In such instances, the consequences are often far reaching as soot particles can be carried for miles and damage third party property. Furthermore, clean-up is labour intensive and thus costly.

    Annex VI to MARPOL 73/78 sets out regulations for the prevention of air pollution and came into force on 19 May 2005. The Master, his/her officers and engineers are advised to consider and comply with MARPOL 73/78 as well as any national regulations.

    In April 1999, the European Union (EU) issued a directive (1999/32/EC) which came into force on 1 July 2002, stating that a sulphur cap is in place on inland use of middle distillate fuels with a similar cap being placed on the marine use of such products. In summary, the directive puts a sulphur cap on all grades of fuel within Table 1 of ISO 82171996. The EU directive includes a sulphur cap of 0.2 per cent by mass on marine diesel oil (MDO).

    This EU directive places considerable restrictions on the use of MDO, particularly for transit between EU ports. Therefore, the Master, his/her officers and engineers should ensure that he/she has up to date information on the specific requirements of the EU which may be more stringent than those under MARPOL, Annex VI.