Revised MARPOL annex I, Annex II and IBC Code adopted at environment meeting

Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) - 52nd session: 11-15 October 2004

Revised regulations to prevent marine pollution by ships carrying oil or chemicals were adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), when it met for its 52nd session from 11-15 October 2004.

The MEPC also designated the Oman Area of the Arabian Seas as a special area and the Western European Waters as a new Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA). Work also continued on other issues including guidelines on ballast water management, ship recycling and prevention of air pollution.

Revised MARPOL Annex I (oil)
The revised MARPOL1 Annex I Regulations for the prevention of pollution by oil was adopted by the Committee and is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2007.

It incorporates the various amendments adopted since MARPOL entered into force in 1983, including the amended regulation 13G (regulation 20 in the revised annex) and regulation 13H (regulation 21 in the revised annex) on the phasing-in of double hull requirements for oil tankers. It also separates, in different chapters, the construction and equipment provisions from the operational requirements and makes clear the distinctions between the requirements for new ships and those for existing ships. The revision provides a more user-friendly, simplified Annex I.

New requirements in the revised Annex I include the following:

  Regulation 22 Pump-room bottom protection: on oil tankers of 5,000 tonnes deadweight and above constructed on or after 1 January 2007, the pump-room shall be provided with a double bottom.
  Regulation 23 Accidental oil outflow performance - applicable to oil tankers delivered on or after [date of entry into force of revised Annex I plus 36 months] 1 January 2010; construction requirements to provide adequate protection against oil pollution in the event of stranding or collision.

The MEPC also adopted a resolution giving explanatory notes on matters related to the accidental oil outflow performance required under regulation 23.

The MEPC approved the revised Unified Interpretations to the revised MARPOL Annex I and a Circular on cross-reference lists between the "old" and "new" regulations of MARPOL Annex I which is intended to facilitate familiarisation with the new numbering system of the revised Annex I.

Oman Sea - new special area under MARPOL Annex I
The MEPC agreed to designate the Oman Sea area of the Arabian Seas as a special area and the designation is included in the revised Annex I.

The other special areas in Annex I are: Mediterranean Sea area; Baltic Sea area; Black Sea area; Red Sea area; "Gulfs" area; Gulf of Aden area; Antarctic area; and North West European Waters. In the special areas, there are stricter controls on discharge of oily wastes.

Revised MARPOL Annex II (noxious liquid substances carried in bulk)
The revised Annex II Regulations for the control of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk includes a new four-category categorization system for noxious and liquid substances. The revised annex is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2007.

The new categories are:

  Category X: Noxious Liquid Substances which, if discharged into the sea from tank cleaning or deballasting operations, are deemed to present a major hazard to either marine resources or human health and, therefore, justify the prohibition of the discharge into the marine environment;
  Category Y: Noxious Liquid Substances which, if discharged into the sea from tank cleaning or deballasting operations, are deemed to present a hazard to either marine resources or human health or cause harm to amenities or other legitimate uses of the sea and therefore justify a limitation on the quality and quantity of the discharge into the marine environment;
  Category Z: Noxious Liquid Substances which, if discharged into the sea from tank cleaning or deballasting operations, are deemed to present a minor hazard to either marine resources or human health and therefore justify less stringent restrictions on the quality and quantity of the discharge into the marine environment; and
  Other Substances: substances which have been evaluated and found to fall outside Category X, Y or Z because they are considered to present no harm to marine resources, human health, amenities or other legitimate uses of the sea when discharged into the sea from tank cleaning of deballasting operations. The discharge of bilge or ballast water or other residues or mixtures containing these substances are not subject to any requirements of MARPOL Annex II.

The revised annex includes a number of other significant changes. Improvements in ship technology, such as efficient stripping techniques, has made possible significantly lower permitted discharge levels of certain products which have been incorporated into Annex II. For ships constructed on or after 1 January 2007 the maximum permitted residue in the tank and its associated piping left after discharge will be set at a maximum of 75 litres for products in categories X, Y and Z - compared with previous limits which set a maximum of 100 or 300 litres, depending on the product category.

Alongside the revision of Annex II, the marine pollution hazards of thousands of chemicals have been evaluated by the Evaluation of Hazardous Substances Working Group, giving a resultant GESAMP2 Hazard Profile which indexes the substance according to its bio-accumulation; bio-degradation; acute toxicity; chronic toxicity; long-term health effects; and effects on marine wildlife and on benthic habitats.

As a result of the hazard evaluation process and the new categorization system, vegetable oils which were previously categorized as being unrestricted will now be required to be carried in chemical tankers. The revised Annex includes, under regulation 4 Exemptions, provision for the Administration to exempt ships certified to carry individually identified vegetable oils, subject to certain provisions relating to the location of the cargo tanks carrying the identified vegetable oil.

Transport of vegetable oils
The MEPC also adopted a resolution on Guidelines for the transport of vegetable oils in deep tanks or in independent tanks specially designed for the carriage of such vegetable oils on board dry cargo ships. The guidelines have been developed to allow general dry cargo ships that are currently certified to carry vegetable oil in bulk to continue to carry these vegetable oils on specific trades. The guidelines will take effect on 1 January 2007.

Consequential amendments to the IBC Code
Consequential amendments to the International Bulk Chemical Code (IBC Code) were also adopted at the session, reflecting the changes to MARPOL Annex II. The amendments incorporate revisions to the categorization of certain products relating to their properties as potential marine pollutants as well as revisions to ship type and carriage requirements following their evaluation by the Evaluation of Hazardous Substances Working Group.

Ships constructed after 1986 carrying substances identified in chapter 17 of the IBC Code must follow the requirements for design, construction, equipment and operation of ships contained in the Code.

Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs)
The MEPC agreed to designate of the Western European Waters as a new PSSA.

There are now seven designated PSSAs: the Great Barrier Reef, Australia (designated a PSSA in 1990); the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago in Cuba (1997); Malpelo Island, Colombia (2002); Around the Florida Keys, United States (2002); the Wadden Sea, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands (2002); Paracas National Reserve, Peru (2003); and Western European Waters (2004).

In relation to the proposed extension of the existing Great Barrier Reef PSSA to include the Torres Strait Region, the MEPC agreed to refer the legal aspects of compulsory pilotage in straits used for international navigation to the Legal Committee for advice.

Review of PSSA guidelines
The MEPC agreed to establish a correspondence group to review, with the objective of clarifying, and, where appropriate, strengthening the current PSSA Guidelines (contained in resolution A.927(22)). The group is expected to report to the next session of the MEPC and any revisions proposed are expected to be presented to the next Assembly in late 2005 for adoption.

Harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water
The MEPC finalized the Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems and approved the Procedure for approval of active substances, with a view to their consideration for adoption at MEPC 53 by an MEPC resolution. The development of other guidelines will continue at the Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) Sub-Committee and future sessions of the MEPC.

Member Governments were urged to work towards ratification of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, adopted in February 2004.

Recycling of ships
The MEPC, having considered the need for developing mandatory measures for ship recycling, agreed that certain parts of the IMO Guidelines on Ship Recycling might be given mandatory effect.

The Working Group on Ship Recycling developed an initial list of the elements of the Guidelines for which a mandatory scheme might be regarded as the most suitable option for their implementation. In considering how the implementation of such a possible mandatory scheme could be achieved, the Working Group agreed that a new IMO instrument could be developed with a view to providing legally binding and globally applicable ship recycling regulations and that further work was needed before a concrete proposal could be made on this issue.

Regarding the reporting system for ships destined for recycling, the MEPC developed, as a starting point, a draft outline of this system in order to identify, in a schematic way, what should be reported, to where and by whom. It was noted that additional work was needed for the further development of this system with the aim of considering, amongst other issues, the appropriate time-frame for the reporting, a harmonized reporting format and the possible need for additional flow of information between the involved stakeholders.

The MEPC approved the Guidelines for the development of the ship recycling plan, which provide further technical information and guidance for the preparation of a suitable ship recycling plan (SRP), as recommended in section 8.3.2 of the IMO Guidelines on Ship Recycling.

The MEPC agreed that a "single list" of the potentially hazardous materials on board should be developed replacing the existing Appendices 1, 2 and 3 of the IMO Guidelines and providing guidance on the identification of potentially hazardous materials on board ships and the preparation of the relevant inventories.

The MEPC considered a proposal to establish an International Ship Recycling Fund with the aim of facilitating the technical co-operation activities for capacity building, training and the necessary funding mechanisms.

It was agreed that the ship recycling should be included in the future thematic priorities of the Organization's Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme (ITCP) with the aim of assisting developing countries to improve environment and safety level in ship recycling operations and the Technical Co-operation Committee was invited to consider further the arrangements to establish a dedicated fund.

The MEPC noted the continued co-operation with the International Labour Organization and the relevant bodies of the Basel Convention on ship recycling. The first Joint ILO/IMO/BC Working Group on Ship Scrapping is scheduled to take place at IMO Headquarters from 15 to 17 February 2005.

The MEPC, taking into account the need to progress the work on ship recycling issues in an expeditious manner:

  agreed to the establishment of a correspondence group to further progress the work in the intersessional period;
  approved a three-day intersessional meeting of the Working Group on Ship Recycling during the week before MEPC 53; and
  agreed to re-establish the Working Group on Ship Recycling at the next session of the Committee.

Air pollution
Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, contained in MARPOL Annex VI, will enter into force on 19 May 2005.

The MEPC further reviewed the draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI which were approved at previous sessions of the Committee, with a view to their adoption at MEPC 53. The draft amendments relate to the designation of the North Sea area as a "SOx Emission Control Area" and the introduction of the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification into MARPOL Annex VI. In addition, the Committee instructed the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment to consider a number of proposed Unified Interpretations.

The Committee made progress on developing draft Guidelines on the CO2 Indexing Scheme and urged Members to carry out trials using the scheme and to report to the next session. One purpose of developing guidelines on CO2emission indexing is to develop a simple system that could be used voluntarily by ship operators during a trial period.

The Committee agreed that a CO2 indexing scheme should be simple and easy to apply and take into consideration matters related to construction and operation of the ship, and market based incentives.

Meanwhile, the Committee recognized that IMO guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions have to address all six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol (Carbon dioxide (CO2); Methane (CH4); Nitrous oxide (N2O); Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs); Perfluorocarbons (PFCs); and Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

Oil and HNS Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation
The MEPC agreed to the development of a joint IMO/UNEP Manual on Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Following Major Oil Spills, to be submitted for consideration at MEPC 53.

Following work by the Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC)/OPRC-HNS (Hazardous and Noxious Substances) Technical Group, the MEPC approved draft Guidelines on facilitation of response to pollution incidents for submission to the 24th Assembly in November 2005 for adoption.

The MEPC also approved OPRC Model Training Courses (Introductory course and Levels 1, 2 and 3).

Inadequacy of reception facilities
Recognizing that provision of reception facilities is crucial for effective MARPOL implementation, the MEPC strongly encouraged Member States, particularly those Parties to the MARPOL Convention as port States, to fulfil their treaty obligations on providing adequate reception facilities. Governments were also urged to respond to a questionnaire on alleged inadequacy of port reception facilities (MEPC/Circ.417) and to report their experiences to MEPC 53 with the aim of identifying problem areas and developing a future action plan.

1International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78)
2Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP)


IMO - the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Web site:

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Senior External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3153 ( or
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 ( ).