MARPOL 73/78 - International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships

ANNEX 5 - RESOLUTION MEPC.115(51) - Adopted on 1 April 2004
Regulation 11: Discharge of Sewage
1 Subject to the provisions of regulation 3 of this Annex, the discharge of sewage into the sea is prohibited, except when:
.1 the ship is discharging comminuted and disinfected sewage using a system approved by the Administration in accordance with regulation 9.1.2 of this Annex at a distance of more than 3 nautical miles from the nearest land, or sewage which is not comminuted or disinfected at a distance of more than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land, provided that in any case, the sewage that has been stored in holding tanks shall not be discharged instantaneously but at a moderate rate when the ship is en route and proceeding at not less than 4 knots; the rate of discharge shall be approved by the Administration based upon standards developed by the Organization; or
.2 the ship has in operation an approved sewage treatment plant which has been certified by the Administration to meet the operational requirements referred to in regulation 9.1.1 of this Annex, and
.1 the test results of the plant are laid down in the ship’s International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate; and
.2 additionally, the effluent shall not produce visible floating solids nor cause discoloration of the surrounding water. 


«The marina must have an environmental policy and an environmental plan. The plan should include references to water management, waste and energy consumption, health and safety issues, and the use of environmentally-friendly products wherever possible»

«Bilge water pumping facilities should be available at the marina… The facilities must be easily accessible for all potential users.»

«Toilet tank waste reception facilities must be present in the marina. The toilet tank waste reception facilities may consist of a permanent toilet pumping station, a mobile toilet pumping facility or a sludge pumping van… The facilities must be easily accessible to boat owners.»

«The water in the marina must be visually clean without any evidence of pollution, e.g. oil, litter, sewage or other evidence of pollution.» 


«An appropriate waste reception and handling plan shall be developed and implemented for each harbour...». 

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Small and medium-scale pollutions caused by leakage of refined oil products (e.g. bilge water, refuelling). Oil pollutions are the most visible as they cause an oil sheen on the water which decreases the penetration of light and the oxygenation of the water.


Solid waste represents a direct risk to fauna and flora. The impact is particularly harmful when they are not biodegradable. For instance, fish, birds and marine mammals die as a result of ingestion of plastic objects.


Waste waters, wherever they may originate from, can have numerous negative effects:

  • Colouring of water due to suspended solids, resulting in a decrease in the penetration of light
  • Eutrophication of water by nutrients, causing an accelerated growth of algae leading to the reduction of water oxygen levels
  • Introduction of pathogenic organisms that can transmit diseases to humans


Bilge water can be found aboard almost every vessel. Depending on the ship’s design and function, bilge water may contain water, oil, detergents, solvents, chemicals, particles, and other materials. Some of these substances may be persistent organic pollutants.


The port is responsible for the safety of its users, and must therefore be prepared for a number of actions such as:

  • Rescue of a person fallen in water
  • Fire-fighting
  • First-aid
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