MARPOL Annex V – Garbage from ships - revised


  • Date: 26/04/2013

Annex V of the MARPOL Convention aims to eliminate and reduce the amount of garbage being dumped into the sea from ships.  Its terms include all kinds of food, domestic and operational waste that are likely to be disposed of during the normal operation of the ship.

Amendments to Annex V were adopted by resolution MEPC.201(62), which entered into force on 1 January 2013. The revised Annex V prohibits the discharge of all garbage into the sea, except as provided otherwise.  For example, Annex V totally prohibits of the disposal of plastics anywhere into the sea, and severely restricts discharges of other garbage from ships into coastal waters and "Special Areas".

An overview of the revised MARPOL Annex V discharge provisions, and a copy of MEPC 201(62) can be found here.

The special areas established under Annex V are:

  • the Mediterranean Sea
  • the Baltic Sea
  • the Black Sea
  • the Red Sea
  • the Gulfs area
  • the North Sea
  • the Wider Caribbean Region and
  • Antarctic Area

These are areas which have particular problems because of heavy maritime traffic or low water exchange caused by the land-locked nature of the sea concerned.

Ship’s garbage from ships can be just as deadly to marine life as oil or chemicals. Although many items can be degraded by the sea the process can take more than a few months or years. For example, a plastic bottle can take centuries to dissolve at sea.

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