MARPOL Convention

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention) of 02.11.1973 is a convention to protect the marine environment. In 20 articles it contains general obligations for the contracting states, as well as procedural notes and basic requirements. The practically relevant regulations for the prevention of pollution of the marine environment with regard to the various waste streams and emissions from ships’ operations are contained in Annexes I to VI.

On the basis of § 15 of the German Maritime Responsibilities Act (SeeAufgG), the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure issued Regulations on Environmentally Sustainable Behaviour in Maritime Shipping (Regulations on Environmentally Sustainable Behaviour in Maritime Shipping (Maritime Environmental Behaviour Regulations) (PDF, 206KB, Not barrier-free file.)). On the basis of these regulations, violations of the MARPOL Convention, of other international environmental conventions and of additional rules of conduct for the protection of the environment in shipping can be punished. The BSH is responsible for prosecuting the vast majority of administrative offences pursuant to § 28 SeeUmwVerhV.

Statistics on the prosecution of environmental offences committed relating to the MARPOL Convention (PDF, 212KB, Not barrier-free file.)


Annex I - Prevention of oil pollution

Annex I (entered into force internationally on 02.10.1983) contains shipbuilding regulations for the protection of the marine environment as well as a general ban on discharging oil. However, the discharge of oil-containing mixtures is permissible provided the discharge regulations are observed. In addition, all important operations on board, in particular the treatment and whereabouts of oil residues and oily bilge water, shall be recorded in an oil record book.

Discharge requirements relating to Annex I (PDF, 86KB, Not barrier-free file.)

Annex II - Prevention of pollution by noxious liquid substances

Annex II (entered into force internationally on 02.10.1983) concerns the transport of harmful liquid substances transported in bulk and the discharge of liquid residues containing harmful liquid substances. The provisions of this Annex also include a general prohibition of discharge of these residues. Exceptions that are based on the classification of the respective substance in hazard class X, Y or Z are permitted. All important processes taking place on board with regard to a harmful substance must be entered in a cargo record book.

Discharge requirements relating to Annex II (PDF, 20KB, Not barrier-free file.)

Annex III - Prevention of pollution caused by pollutants transported in packaged form

Annex III (entered into force internationally on 01.07.1992) stipulates that, in order to prevent marine pollution, pollutants may only be transported in packaged form in accordance with this Annex. These regulations are implemented nationally by the Dangerous Goods Ordinance Sea (e.g. for dangerous goods in containers).

Annex IV – Prevention of marine pollution by ships’ sewage

Annex IV (entered into force internationally on 27.09.2003) regulates the prevention or reduction of marine pollution caused by ship sewage. Accordingly, the discharge of ship sewage is generally prohibited. Exceptions are only permitted in accordance with Regulation 11 of Annex IV of the MARPOL Convention.

Discharge requirements relating to Annex IV (PDF, 92KB, Not barrier-free file.)

Annex V - Prevention of pollution by ship-generated waste

Annex V (entered into force internationally on 31.12.1988) contains provisions for the prevention of pollution by ship-generated waste. The prerequisites for the introduction of ship-generated waste are determined by the type of ship-generated waste in question. A garbage record book must document all processes relating to the garbage produced on board.

Discharge requirements relating to Annex V (PDF, 76KB, Not barrier-free file.)

Annex VI – Prevention of air pollution from seagoing ships

Annex VI (which entered into force on 19.05.2005) serves to prevent air pollution from seagoing ships. Among other things, limit values for nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides have been laid down in this Annex.

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 201220152020
Outside (S)ECA according to Sulphur Directive and MARPOL Annex VI3,50 % m/m3,50 % m/m0,50 % m/m
Within (S)ECA according to Sulphur Directive and Annex VI MARPOL1,00 % m/m (since 01.01.2010)0,10 % m/m0,10 % m/m
Special case EU-wide: Passenger ships (regular traffic between EU-ports) according to Sulphur Directive1,50 % m/m (within SECA 1,00 % m/m)1,50 % m/m (within SECA 0,10 % m/m)0,50 % m/m
Special case EU-wide: EU-ports (more than two hours at berth) according to Sulphur Directive0,10 % m/m0,10 % m/m0,10 % 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 applied in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea. If exhaust gas cleaning systems are used within German waters (including the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the discharge requirements (german) pursuant to § 13 para. 7 SeeUmwVerhV and CDNI apply to the discharge of scrubber wash water.

Availability of low-sulphur marine fuel

The BSH maintains a list of locally active marine fuel suppliers in accordance with Annex VI Regulation 18 para. 9.1 to the MARPOL Convention.
MARPOL list of locally active marine fuel suppliers (PDF, 50KB, Not barrier-free file.)

In the event that a ship could not purchase low-sulphur marine fuel due to a lack of availability and is nevertheless sailing in German waters, the following must be observed:
Information on non-availability of compliant (low-sulphur) fuel oil (PDF, 233KB, Not barrier-free file.)

Industry Guidance on Compliance with the Sulphur ECA Requirements

The German Shipowners' Association (VDR) has issued an Industry Guidance on Compliance with the Sulphur ECA Requirements  (PDF, 673KB, Not barrier-free file.) on the occasion of the sulphur limit value of 0.10 % m/m in an emission control area (ECA), which has been in force since 01.01.2015. This contains in particular information on the process of changing over from heavy fuel oil to low-sulphur marine fuels as well as information on the use of new low-sulphur marine fuels (such as HDME50).