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MARPOL Convention


Information on the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ship

The MARPOL Convention

The MARPOL Convention from 02.11.1973 is an international agreement for the protection of the marine environment. In its 20 Articles, the convention contains general obligations of the contracting parties as well as procedures and fundamental regulations. The provisions that are practically relevant to the prevention of pollution of the marine environment with regard to the various types of waste products caused by the operation of ships are contained in Annex I to VI.

On the basis of § 15 of the Law relating to the Tasks of the Federal Government in the Area of Maritime Traffic (SeeAufgG), the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has issued the regulation concerning Environmental Maritime Behaviour Regulation (SeeUmwVerhV), on the basis of which offences committed against the MARPOL Convention, against other international environmental agreements and other behavioural provisions for the protection of the environment in maritime traffic can be punished. The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) is the authority responsible for prosecuting the vast majority of offences committed pursuant to § 23 SeeUmwVerhV.

Statistics on the prosecution of environmental offences committed relating to the MARPOL Convention

Annex I     Prevention of pollution by oil:

Annex I (entered into force internationally on 02.10.1983) includes not only regulations relating to the construction of ships for the protection of the marine environment but also a general prohibition on discharging oil into the sea. The discharging of oily mixtures, however, is permissible in compliance with the discharging regulations. Furthermore, all the important operational events that take place on board – particularly the treatment and storage of oil residues and oily bilge water – shall be maintained in an oil record book.

Discharge regulations in Annex I

Annex II     Prevention of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk:

Annex II (entered into force internationally on 02.10.1983) deals with the transport of noxious liquid substances, which are conveyed in the form of bulk products as well as the discharging of liquid residues containing noxious liquid substances. The regulations contained in this Annex also include a general prohibition on discharging these residues. Exceptions conforming to the classification of the respective substance into the hazard category X, Y or Z are permissible. All the events occurring on board that are important with regard to a harmful substance shall be entered in a cargo record book.

Discharge regulations in Annex II

Annex III     Prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form:

Annex III (entered into force internationally on 01.07.1992) specifies that in order to prevent pollution of the seas harmful substances in packaged form may only be conveyed in accordance with this Annex. From a national perspective, these provisions have been implemented in the Dangerous Goods (Maritime) Ordinance (such as hazardous goods in containers).

Annex IV     Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships:

Annex IV (entered into force internationally on 27.09.2003) regulates the prevention of or restrictions on polluting the sea by sewage from ships. In accordance with this Annex, the discharging of sewage from ships is generally prohibited. Only exceptions conforming to Regulation 11 of Annex 4 of the MARPOL Convention are permissible.

Discharge regulations in Annex IV

Annex V     Prevention of pollution by garbage from ships:

Annex V (entered into force internationally on 31.12.1988) contains provisions intended to prevent pollution by garbage from ships. The requirements applicable shall be determined according to the type of garbage in question. All the events that relate to the garbage generated on board shall be documented in a garbage record book.

Discharge regulations in Annex V

Annex VI     Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships:

Annex VI (entered into force internationally on 19.05.2005) is intended to prevent pollution of the air by seagoing ships. This Annex determines, inter alia, limit values for nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide.

Sulphur limits in marine fuels

MARPOL Annex VI, Regulation 14
Sulphur oxide (SOx) and particulate matter and the Sulphur Directive in accordance with 2012/33/EU (Sulphur Dir.)

Sulphur standards




Outside the scope of (S)ECA in accordance with Sulphur Dir. and MARPOL Annex VI

3,50 % m/m

3,50 % m/m

0,50 % m/m

Within the scope of (S)ECA in accordance with Sulphur Dir. and MARPOL Annex VI

1,00 % m/m (since 01.01.2010)

0,10 % m/m

0,10 % m/m

Special EU-wide case: Passenger ships (operating on regular services to or from EU portsEU ports) in accordance with Sulphur Dir.

1,50 % m/m
(within SECA 1,00 % m/m)

1,50 % m/m
(within SECA 0,10 % m/m)

0,50 % m/m

Special EU-wide case: EU ports in accordance with Sulphur Dir.

0,10 % m/m

0,10 % m/m

0,10 % m/m

% m/m = by mass in the marine fuel

Since 01.01.2015, a limit value of 0.10 % m/m for the sulphur content in marine fuel has been in force in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea. Insofar as exhaust gas cleaning systems are used in German waters (including the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)) the discharge requirements in accordance with § 13 Section 7 SeeUmwVerhV and CDNI apply to the discharging of scrubber wash-water.

Industry Guidance on Compliance with the Sulphur ECA Requirements

On the occasion of the sulphur limit value of 0.10% in an Emission Control Area (ECA) applicable since 01.01.2015, the German Shipowners' Association (VDR) has issued a recommendation for action for compliance with this sulphur limit value (Industry Guidance on Compliance with the Sulphur ECA Requirements). This recommendation particularly includes information both on the process of changing over from heavy fuel oil to low-sulphur marine fuel and on how to use the new low-sulphur marine fuels (such as HDME50).

Availabitlity of low-sulphur fuel oil

In accordance with Paragraph 9.1 of Regulation 18 to the MARPOL Convention, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) maintains a list of locally active marine fuel suppliers. MARPOL list of locally active marine fuel suppliers (PDF file) – as of 10/2016

In the event of non-availability of low-sulphur fuel oil, a ship that intends to transit German territorial waters the information as follows should be considered:
Procedure for Compliant Fuel Oil Non-Availability (PDF file)

More information:

The current list of MARPOL contracting countries that have ratified the MARPOL Convention is available on the internet at: . ( - Marine Environment - Marine Environment Conventions - MARPOL - Status of Conventions by country).

The MARPOL form for reporting alleged inadequacy relating to port reception facilities (PDF file)



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