For the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships, the revised MARPOL Annex V requirements adopted earlier this year tightened existing regulations over discharges into the sea. The revised annex requires that the discharge of all garbage into the sea is prohibited, except as expressly provided otherwise. Cleaning agents and additives contained in hold wash water, and deck and external surface wash water are considered ‘operational wastes’ and are classed as garbage under the legislation.

Cleaning agents or additives may be discharged into the sea so long as they are not considered harmful to the marine environment and the cleaning agents or additives do not contain any components which are know to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic. The Crew Report spoke to Sheila Goddard from Environmental Yacht Services about what this particular regulation means for crew operations and how yachts can comply with one of the latest annexes under the MARPOL legislation.

Using cleaning products on board without a certificate of compliance could be making yachts liable for prosecution. Credit: Luke Sprague.

We first asked Goddard who will be checking that yachts are complying with the MARPOL annex. “The regulation will be enforced by local authorities, governments and ports,” replied Goddard. “They are the ones that will give you the fine, stop you at sea or even, as has happened in recent examples, eject you from a port.” It is therefore essential that crew understand their responsibility to ensuring that their yacht is in compliance with the annex.

“Annex V is the easiest annex to comply with," Goddard says. “The person in charge of the vessel simply has to prove that he is not damaging the marine environment.” But Goddard goes on to explain the one hurdle that the industry will have to overcome; “Crew will have to change their habits. Teak brightener, for example, is one of the biggest offending products.” In order to demonstrate that the cleaning agent or additive is not harmful to the environment, crew must have records available on the yacht containing evidence from the manufacturer that the product meets the criteria for not being harmful to the marine environment.

“Crew will have to change their habits. Teak brightener, for example, is one of the biggest offending products.” - Sheila Goddard

“If a vessel has a letter of compliance for each individual product on board,” Goddard explains, “then they are covered in every area in every country. If crew use MARPOL Annex V compliant products then they will be able to obtain a certificate of conformity from the manufacturer." At the moment it’s up to the supplier to be proactive and obtain a certificate for each product and the number of manufacturers that are able to do this will hopefully improve in time; "If laws start to be enforced, it will force manufacturers to supply cleaning products that will comply."

Goddard concluded that the legislation should only be seen as the minimum action taken on board. “This legislation is only for the overboard discharge of the deck materials,” she says, “But do you not think we should apply it to all products on board a vessel, such as dish water.” By making small changes on board and accepting their responsibility to the marine environment, crew can easily gain compliance with the legislation and help to change attitudes across the industry.

Transcripts from the Superyacht Management Meeting: Environment and MARPOL are now available to download. To download the transcripts please click here.