The first international instrument introduced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to protect the marine environment from maritime pollution came into force in 1983, entitled the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, otherwise known as MARPOL. Amendments to MARPOL Annex V, which deals with waste and determines which wastes can be discharged at sea and the associated disposal distance from land, were introduced in January 2013 and tightened up those restrictions already in place.
The amendments include the new regulation that vessels must have a Garbage Management Plan that states procedures for collecting, storing, processing and disposing of waste, including the use of equipment on board, and requires all such discharges be registered in a Garbage Record Book. The Garbage Management Plan must contain procedures on waste minimisation, collection, storage, processing, disposal, equipment used on board for handling of waste and the designation of the person(s) in charge of implementation.
The crew of sailing yacht Athena have done just this and take their responsibility towards the marine environment very seriously. “As an ISM-compliant vessel we are required to have a Garbage Management Plan and a garbage officer who, among other things, fills in the Garbage Record Book,” explains Captain Max Cumming. “We also have our own policy on recycling; basically, if the facilities exist on shore, we separate glass, aluminium, plastic and food. On passage we crush all glass before putting it overboard if in legal offshore limits and we squash cans to save space in our lockers on long passages, then recycle at the other end.”
“The only real change from the previous MARPOL regulations is that you are now not permitted to discharge food waste overboard in special areas unless it has been ground up and this restricts yachts in the whole of the Mediterranean."
In charge of implementing the Garbage Management Plan on board motoryacht Vava II is chief officer Jurie Perry, who believes the new regulations have done little to catalyse a change in yachting’s environmental impact. “Speaking to other yachts and from my own experience, I do not think much has changed in the way we manage garbage on board. We have never disposed of garbage overboard, apart from food waste that has passed through a macerator system,” explains Perry. “The only real change from the previous MARPOL regulations is that you are now not permitted to discharge food waste overboard in special areas unless it has been ground up and this restricts yachts in the whole of the Mediterranean. Food waste can be a nasty affair, as you can imagine. Double bagging and keeping it cold is often the best that yachts can do.”
If crew are making the effort to implement effective waste management on board, does this mean that marina and ports are doing their bit to allow crew to continue this initiative once docked? Porto Montenegro is located within the special area of the Mediterranean and, as such, all surrounding yachts will be required to meet the MARPOL waste management requirements, so what is the marina doing to aid the crews’ garbage disposal efforts of visiting yachts? “Located in the UNESCO-protected Bay of Kotor, Porto Montenegro is already required to comply with strict regulations on environmental protection,” Tony Browne, Porto Montenegro managing director, explains. “As a shore facility we have implemented very strict measures in managing the waste within the marina. The local port authorities enforce the regulation and we support our clients as much as possible to comply. We offer free black and grey water disposal for all yachts and have all the facilities to receive various types of waste and garbage in accordance with international and domestic laws and regulations.”
However, feedback from crewmembers reveals this is not the case in marinas all over the world, with many offering limited waste disposal services and assistance. “Most have facilities or can arrange garbage disposal but not as many cater for garbage segregation and recycling as one would hope or expect,” discloses Perry. “This sometimes makes the segregation and management on board feel like a time-wasting exercise.”
Find the full article with extended comment in issue 68 of The Crew Report - click here to download.