Maritime transport is responsible for about 90% of global trade and is considered the least environmentally damaging mode of transportation.
Compared to land-based transportation and human activities, shipping is overall a minor contributor to marine pollution.
In order to minimize the impact of the maritime industry on the environment, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) developed the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, or MARPOL (which stands for Marine Pollution) in 1973.
The primary objective of MARPOL is to prevent and minimize pollution from ships from both accidental and operational causes, and currently includes six technical annexes:
- Annex I: Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil
- Annex II: Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk
- Annex III: Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried at Sea in Packaged Form
- Annex IV: Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships
- Annex V: Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Garbage from Ships
- Annex VI: Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships
These regulations are enforced by the government through the United States Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Interested in MARPOL educational materials? For a one page handout on the MARPOL annexes, click here.
For an informational brochure on the annexes, click here or see below:
For more information about MARPOL, visit the IMO’s website here.
As IMO requirements are continuously being improved, it can be a challenge to keep updated. For a summary of the most important IMO requirements from July 2015 to July 2018 inclusive, click here for a summary by DNV GL. The maritime industry is continuously making significant advancements in developing new technology and modifying onboard processes in order to increase sustainability. This includes using cleaner fuels, reducing sulphur dioxide emissions, reducing the amount of fuel ships use, and using new treatment equipment for ballast water management.
The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) is one organization that works to educate seafarers, port communities and students about marine environment protection. For additional information on MARPOL, the maritime industry and environmental issues impacting our oceans and waterways, visit www.namepa.net or www.namepajr.net.
HELMEPA (the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association) is pioneering voluntary initiative composed of Greek seafarers and ship owners committed to safeguarding the seas from ship-generated pollution. HELMEPA was founded on June 4, 1982 in Piraeus, Greece and has worked to foster a sense environmental consciousness and spirit of safety, among seafarers and ship owners. HELMEPA achieves these goals through a highly-coordinated voluntary effort towards informing, updating, educating and motivating all, from ship owner to the last seafarer. Members are typically ship owners, managing companies and ship’s agents, masters, deck and engineer officers, ship’s crew members as well as other organizations and stakeholders from the broader Greek and international maritime and business community.
HELMEPA’s major operational activities include:
Encouraging compliance with both national and international laws and regulations that Greece has ratified and governing pollution prevention
Assisting the Greek State in relation to international legislation on the protection of the marine environment.
Promoting international efforts to unify international environmental regulations, efforts for the elimination of ship-generated pollution wherever possible, and the improving of safety standards.
To learn more about HELMEPA visit www.helmepa.gr/en/home.php
“Save Our Seas” is the mission of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) which is an independent, marine industry-led entity that engages industry, regulators, environmental groups, educators and the public by promoting sound environmental practices. NAMEPA is a non-profit organization committed to preserving the marine environment through educating seafarers, students and the public about the need and strategies for protecting global ocean resources.