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March 08, 2013
Guidance on MARPOL garbage ban

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued interim guidance on implementing amendments to MARPOL Annex V, which established a general prohibition on discharges of garbage into the sea.

The amendments were formally adopted by the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee  on July 15, 2012, and entered into force January 1, 2013.  The Coast Guard says it intends to revise its regulations to conform to the amendments.  However, the lack of updated regulations does not exempt ships from meeting the amended requirements, says the Coast Guard, and all U.S. flagged ships and fixed or floating platforms are expected to do so. 

Exceptions to the general prohibition are provided under “prescribed conditions” for food wastes; cargo residues; cleaning agents or additives contained in cargo hold, deck, and external surface wash waters: and animal carcasses.  Mainly, to qualify for the exception, vessel operators must make a record of the discharge in the vessel’s Garbage Record Book.  Data such as date and time of discharge, category of garbage discharged, and volume discharged must be entered.  

International waters

The Coast Guard notes that compliance with the Annex V amendments is particularly important for U.S. flagged ships (including recreational and uninspected ships) on international voyages that want to avoid Port State control actions.

For U.S. ships operating strictly on domestic routes, the guidance instructs Coast Guard marine inspectors to verify compliance with the amendments during normally scheduled inspections.  However, the guidance adds that inspectors are encouraged to use “an educational outreach and awareness approach.”  Current enforcement options remain in place for willful and egregious violators or repeat offenders, adds the Coast Guard.

Additionally, all foreign flagged ships operating in the navigable waters of the United States or the Exclusive Economic Zone of the U.S. are expected to meet the requirements of the amended MARPOL Annex V. Coast Guard Port State Control Officers are instructed to verify a foreign flag ship’s compliance with MARPOL Annex V during normally scheduled Port State control examinations.

The Coast Guard’s notice of the availability of the interim guidance was published in the February 26, 2013, FR.

Click here for the interim guidance.

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