That’s the amount American authorities recently fined Zeus Lines Management for violating MARPOL regulations. The Greek shipping company owned a 50,000-dwt tanker Galissas, which officials found guilty of falsifying records for discharge of oily bilge and failure to report hazardous conditions on board. In addition to the fine, the company will serve a four-year probationary term with a detailed environmental compliance plan.
This is just one recent incident where failure to comply with environmental regulations caused significant challenges for ship owners and managers — along with potential prison time for the master and chief engineer. Authorities are now cracking down on violations more swiftly and with bigger fines than ever before.
Understanding MARPOL requirements and adequately documenting environmental compliance is critical to de-risking your shipping organization. Here’s what you need to know:
What is MARPOL?
Adopted in 1973 by the International Maritime Organization in response to several tanker incidents, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) is designed to prevent and minimize pollution from seafaring activities. This includes accidental pollution and the common byproducts from regularly scheduled activities.
MARPOL regulates how seafarers interact with how you dispose of items onboard and with the incinerator and oily water separator. It also includes six technical annexes that refer to special areas with stricter controls, such as:
- All new oil tankers must have a double hull (Annex I, 1983)
- No discharge of noxious substances is permitted within 12 miles of land (Annex II, 1983)
- Standards for packing, marking, labeling, documentation, stowage, and permitted quantity of hazardous materials on board (Annex III, 1992)
- Standards for disinfection and discharge of sewage (Annex IV, 2003)
- Standards for disposal of different kinds of garbage on board, including a ban on sea disposal of plastics (Annex V, 1988)
- Limits emissions of sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and other greenhouse gasses (Annex VI, 2005)
While MARPOL has been in existence for fifty years, fines are on the rise.
“A shipowner can be found guilty of MARPOL violations even if [they are] unaware of the crew’s actions, if those actions benefited the company,” Sam Kendall-Marsden, Director of Claims at the Standard P&I Club, tells Safety4Sea. “It is then for the shipowner to demonstrate that it had in place adequate environmental policies and procedures to prevent this.”
How to Demonstrate MARPOL Compliance
To demonstrate effective environmental policies and procedures, master and crew must document regular interactions between the OWS, OBV, and incinerator to demonstrate a regular cadence and proper disposal. “Rigorous training and supervision, regular auditing and effective senior management oversight are key to ensuring MARPOL compliance,” says Kendall-Marsden. “The most effective way to mitigate risk in this area is maintaining a company-wide culture of compliance.”
That’s where ShipIn’s patented FleetVision technology comes in.
FleetVision gives you a powerful combination of CCTV camera footage and AI-generated analytics and insight that create an automatic log of activities onboard.
ShipIn’s MARPOL report provides an at-a-glance look at OWS, OBV, and incinerator interactions to generate an overall performance score and help users find any potential issues. For example, ShipIn’s FleetVision would pick up on an increase in interactions beyond your routine cadence, pointing to a potential leak or anomaly beyond regular operational patterns.
In this way, ShipIn can highlight increased risks for MARPOL violations and build a fleetwide benchmark of the proper procedures, frequency, and behavior. This takes the work off of your crew to log every detail and does so in an unbiased, detailed way that gives you a long time frame to determine if anomalies are occurring.
Reduce MARPOL Risk with ShipIn
ShipIn’s FleetVision platform allows ship owners and managers to engage with the crew through continuous communication and visibility from ship to shore into shipboard activities, shipboard behavior, and shipboard status with an easy-to-use dashboard.
See how ShipIn can help comply with regulations like MARPOL >