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What are the garbage special areas ? Ship generated garbage disposal rules in such areas

Garbage pollution- Under Annex V of the MARPOL Convention, garbage includes all kinds of food, domestic and operational waste generated during the normal operation of the vessel.

For centuries seafarers have thrown their garbage 'over the side'. However, the waste products of the past were in general made from natural materials which were biodegradable.

Today, garbage must be disposed of strictly in accordance with the eVMS procedures and International and local laws. There is no exception to this rule.

Disposal of garbage can have biological and economic effects to the marine environment:
•Biological effects: Garbage can become entangled with marine organisms,smother and kill bottom growing plants or be eaten by marine creatures.

•Economic effects: Garbage can become attached to ships or catch on propellers or other equipment, leading to interruptions in a vessel's operations. Beaches with polluted seas have a negative effect on health and tourism.

Revised MARPOL Annex V (entered into force on 1st January 2013) with a view to preventing pollution by garbage from ships. Key requirements are:
  1. it is prohibited to dispose of all garbage at sea unless permitted in the regulations
  2. severe restrictions on the distance from the nearest land where other types of ship- generated garbage can be thrown away
  3. the creation of 'Special Areas' which require special methods of garbage discharge.
  4. Annex V also states that governments must ensure the provision of facilities at ports and terminals for receiving garbage (reception facilities).

MARPOL Annex VI, Regulation 16 requires:
  1. Incineration of the following is prohibited in all incinerators:
  2. Annex I (Cargo residues), Annex II (Noxious liquid substances) and Annex III (Harmful substances in packed form)
  3. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  4. Garbage containing heavy metals (used in coatings, paints, packaging, etc.)
  5. Refined petroleum products containing halogen compounds.

Garbage Disposal Record

Every ship of 400 gross tonnage and above and every ship which is certified to carry 15 or more persons engaged in voyages to ports which are under the jurisdiction of another Party to the Convention must maintain a Garbage Record Book (SAF14).

The Record should be used as a log of the following:
  1. when garbage is discharged in the sea
  2. when garbage is discharged to reception facilities ashore or to another ship
  3. when garbage is incinerated
  4. any accidental or exceptional discharge of garbage.

Receipts or certificates should be received for any garbage landed ashore and will include the type of garbage and estimated amount. These receipts are to be kept, along with the Garbage Record Book for a minimum of 2 years and must be available for inspection by port officials and other inspectors.

What are the garbage special areas ? :

The Special Areas designated under MARPOL Annex V are :-

Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, Red Sea, North Sea, Gulfs Area, Antarctic Area ( S of 60 degree South) & Wider Caribbean region including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea

(a) The Mediterranean Sea area means the Mediterranean Sea proper including the gulfs and seas therein with the boundary between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea constituted by the 41?N parallel and bounded to the west by the Straits of Gibraltar at the meridian 5-36W.

(b) The Baltic Sea area means the Baltic Sea proper with the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland and the entrance to the Baltic Sea bounded by the parallel of the Skaw in the Skagerrak at 57-44.8N.

(c) The Black Sea area means the Black Sea proper with the boundary between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea constituted by the parallel 41-N.

(d) The Red Sea area means the Red Sea proper including the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba bounded at the south by the rhumb line between Ras si Ane (12-28.5N, 43-19.6E) and Husn Murad (12-40.4N, 43-30.2E).

(e) The Gulfs area means the sea area located north-west of the rhumb line between Ras al Hadd (22-30N, 59-48E) and Ras al Fasteh (25-04N, 61-25E).

(f) The North Sea area means the North Sea proper including seas therein with the boundary between :

(i) the North Sea southwards of latitude 62-N and eastwards of longitude 4-W ;

(ii) the Skagerrak, the southern limit of which is determined east of the Skaw by latitude 57-44.8N ; and

(iii) the English Channel and its approaches eastwards of longitude 5-W and northwards of latitude 48-30N.

(g) The Antarctic area means the sea area south of latitude 60-S.

(h) The Wider Caribbean Region, means the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea proper including the bays and seas therein and that portion of the Atlantic Ocean within the boundary constituted by the 30-N parallel from Florida eastward to 77-30W meridian, thence a rhumb line to the intersection of 20-N parallel and 59-W meridian, thence a rhumb line to the intersection of 7-20N parallel and 50-W meridian, thence a rhumb line drawn south-westerly to the eastern boundary of French Guiana.


When an area is approved as a particularly sensitive sea area (PSSA), as would be known from the chart, the vessel shall comply with the relevant instructions when intending to pass through it.

The Chief Officer should ensure that all waste is stored in a safe and hygienic manner. Food waste and associated garbage which may decompose during storage should be sealed in airtight bags (but biodegradable unless being landed)

Disinfection and pest control, both preventive and remedial , should be carried out regularly in garbage storage areas.

It is of vital importance that all garbage is stored in covered, leak proof containers for the sake of hygiene, safety and to avoid penalty in port.

Although sea disposal is possible consistent with Annex V, discharge of garbage to port reception facilities should be given first priority ( and receipt obtained)

Summary of At-sea garbage disposal

(to be posted at major garbage collection centres) *Comminuted or ground garbage must be able to pass through a screen with a mesh size no larger than 25mm.

** When garbage is mixed with other harmful substances having different disposal or discharge requirements the more stringent requirements shall apply.

***When discharging cargo residue (including cargo residue mixed with cleaning water), the start and stop times of operation must be entered in the Garbage Log Book.

Related Information

Garbage management rules

Marine Pollution by garbage [ Marpol annex V ]

Environmental aspects

Treatment of waste oil and oily bilges from machinery spaces

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