International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78)
- Type: Convention
- Date of signature: 17/02/1978
- Place of signature: London, United Kingdom
- Depositary: International Maritime Organization (IMO)
- Date of entry into force: 02/10/1983
What is it about?
This instrument contains regulations covering prevention and minimization of pollution from ships derived from both routine operations and accidents. This instrument, also known as MARPOL 73/78, is made up of the combination of two treaties: The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships – MARPOL (London, 02/11/1973), which did not enter into force and it is not intended to do so anymore, and this protocol itself, which absorbed the latter convention. States ratifying this instrument must accept Annexes I and II, but can choose not to ratify the others. It currently includes six technical annexes, the first two of which deal specifically with: - Annex I: Prevention of pollution by oil. It establishes detailed oil discharge criteria and it introduces and defines the concept of ‘special areas’, which are considered to be so vulnerable to pollution by oil that oil discharges within them have been completely prohibited. (Entry into force: 02/10/1983) - Annex II: Control of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk, detailing the discharge criteria and control measures. (Entry into force: 06/04/1987).
Why is it relevant?
It is the main international instrument aiming at preventing pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
There are several amendments to the technical annexes of this instrument. They can be adopted by a ‘tacit acceptance’ procedure, whereby the amendments enter into force on a specific date unless an agreed number of States Parties object it. Violations to this instrument within the jurisdiction of any party are punishable either under the law of the party or under the law of the flag State. The Contracting parties accept the obligation to promote support to those parties which request technical assistance for various purposes, such as training, the supply of equipment, research, and combating pollution. In December 2007 146 states had ratified the Protocol, the combined merchant fleets of which constitute 99% of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant fleet. F. Related Instruments: - Protocol of 1978 relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as amended (MARPOL PROT 1978): Annexes III, IV, V- Protocol of 1997 to amend the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 Relating Thereto (MARPOL PROT 1997): Annex VI