Human Society sustains itself by transforming the nature into garbage.

Mason Cooley

The above quote states that humans are responsible for all the garbage on the Earth.  Pollution and garbage are everywhere damaging air, land as well as water. So as to overcome pollution in sea or ocean from all types of ships, International Maritime Organisation adopted the MARPOL convention.

Courtesy:- Unknown

What is MARPOL?

The International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) is the main convention for the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from various causes. It was adopted on 2nd September 1973. As the 1973 MARPOL Convention had not been entered into force, the 1978 MARPOL Protocol occupied the parent Convention. The combined convection entered into force on 2 October 1983. It includes all the regulations aimed at preventing and minimising pollution from ships in International water bodies. It has six technical annexes stating different points, out of which annex-5 is explained below.

ANNEX-V :- Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships 

w.e.f- 31st Dec, 1988

It contains of all the regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships. We know that oils and chemicals discharged from ships are dangerous to marine life, but the garbage discharged can be even more dangerous. People used to believe that the ocean absorbs anything thrown into them. Many items can also be degraded by the seas but this process takes several years. Aquatic life sometimes mistake plastic items as food and often get trapped in bottles, nets, bags, and other items and thus losing their lives.

Thus, Annex-5 seeks to eliminate the discharge of garbage from ships. Annex V applies to all types of ships, whatsoever operating in the international seas or marine environment, from merchant ships to fixed or floating platforms to non-commercial ships like pleasure ships or cruises and yachts. It prohibits the discharge of all garbage into the sea, except as provided otherwise in regulations 4, 5, and 6 of the Annex, which are related to food waste, cargo residues and animal carcasses as some of then can be degraded over a short period of time.


Regulation 10.1 of the annex also requires to display placards notifying passengers and crew of the ships, of the garbage disposal requirements and procedures of the annex. These placards should be written in the working language of the crew and passengers. It applies to all ships having 12 metres of length or more and every fixed or floating platform.


Garbage Management Plan

All ships of 100 gross tonnage and above and certified to carry 15 crew members or more, must carry a garbage management plan on board, which includes written procedures and steps for collecting, minimizing, storing, processing and disposing of garbage, including the use of the various equipment like different coloured bins etc. on board. A responsible person should be designated for the management plan, and be written in the crew’s working language.

Port Reception Facilities

The effectiveness of this rule for ships to comply with the discharge requirements of MARPOL depends largely upon the availability of adequate port reception facilities, especially within special areas mentioned below. MARPOL Annex V obliges Governments to ensure the availability of adequate reception facilities at ports and terminals for the reception and proper discharge of garbage without causing undue delay to ships, and be designed according to the needs of the types of ships using them.

The special areas established under Annex V are:

  • The Mediterranean Sea area
  • The Baltic Sea area
  • The Black Sea area
  • The Red Sea area
  • The Gulf area
  • The North Sea area
  • The Wider Caribbean Region and
  • The Antarctic area

Garbage Record Book

Courtesy:- MarineLite

For the enforcement and proper implementation of the rules, all the certified ships are to provide and maintain a garbage record book to record all disposal and incineration operations. The date and time, position of the ship, description of the garbage and the estimated amount of garbage  incinerated or discharged must be entered and signed in the record book  by the designated officer. According to the convention, the Garbage Record Book must be kept for a period of two years after the date of the last entry. This regulation as such does not impose stricter requirements- but it makes easier to check that the regulations on garbage are being adhered. Ship personnel must keep the track of all the garbage and whatever happens to it, as it can prove an advantage when the local officials check for the origin of discharged garbage or otherwise they are unlikely to be wrongly penalised.

Cargo Residues

These are the remnants of any cargo that are left on the deck or in the cargo holds following loading or unloading. These cargo residues are not yet covered by any annexes to the present convention. They include the spillage during loading or unloading whether in wet or dry condition or entrained in wash water but do not include cargo dust remained on deck during sweeping or dust present on the external surfaces of the ship. In general, the cargo residues which contain the substances that are considered harmful to the marine environment should not be discharged into the sea as it may harm marine life. These should be taken to the port reception facilities for the safe discharge. Also the solid cargo must be classified and declared by the ship officer in advance, as to whether they are harmful to the marine environment or not. 


The standard specification for it covers its design, performance, manufacturing details, operation and testing and checking of the incinerator to incinerate the garbage on ship and other shipboard waste.


The main aim of this annex was the proper discharge of the garbage so that it does not cause any harm to the marine life. From the above article it is clear that life at sea is not easy. Seafarers have to follow and abide all the rules for the safer voyage, and we as upcoming seafarers should pledge to follow all the rules, and should together prevent pollution and protect our Earth.


Authored By:- Cdt. Pranav Phutela, TMI

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