International Law

The first approach at international level to control sea pollution by oil was the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil of 1954, also known as OILPOL54.

In spite of the important revisions made (1962 and 1969), the OILPOL54 Convention failed to achieve its goals, which included the provision of ship-generated waste reception facilities. OILPOL54 requested that signatory states take all the necessary measures to provide sufficient reception facilities, leaving implementation at the discretion of port authorities, without, though, making such provision mandatory for compliance with OILPOL54. This may have been the main reason why the installation of ship-generated waste reception facilities under the Convention had unsatisfactory results.

To minimise intended pollution of the marine environment by oil and other substances and to minimise by accident discharge of such substances, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, was developed to replace OILPOL54. This Convention was further amended by Protocol of 1978 forming a unique convention, referred to as MARPOL 73/78, which provides the general framework, while its Annexes contain detailed regulations on the prevention of pollution.

The Annexes cover all types of ship-generated waste, namely:

Annex I Oil
Annex II Noxious liquid substances carried in bulk
Annex III Harmful substances carried in packaged form
Annex IV Sewage
Annex V Garbage
Annex VI Air pollution