As shipping accounts for about 20% of global discharges of wastes and residues at sea, the protection of the marine environment can be enhanced significantly by reducing discharges of all kind of ship-generated waste and cargo residues into the sea.
The development of adequate port reception facilities (PRF) for ship-generated waste and cargo residues, together with the establishment of systems which provide incentives for ships to use these facilities, are major elements in the process to reduce ships' discharges into the sea.
International Maritime Organization
The IMO has for many years addressed the delivery of ship-generated waste and cargo residues, mainly by aiming at improving the availability and adequacy of port reception facilities. Relevant requirements thereto have been adopted in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). In general, MARPOL contains regulations and requirements defining which wastes can be discharged into the marine environment. MARPOL also imposes an obligation on the State Parties to provide facilities for the reception of ship-generated residues and garbage (that cannot be discharged into the sea). These reception facilities must be adequate to meet the needs of ships using the port, without causing undue delay for ships. The relevant MARPOL regulations on port reception facilities are:
Annex I: regulation 38; Annex II: regulation 18; Annex IV: regulation 12 (12bis); Annex V: regulation 8; and Annex VI: regulation 17.
The 42nd session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in November 1998 agreed that to achieve "adequate" reception facilities the port should have regard to the operational need of users and provide reception facilities for the type and quantities of waste from ships normally using the port, without causing undue delay for the ships.
Resolution MEPC.83(44) further stated that facilities provided by the port must meet the needs of the ships normally using the port, and allow for the ultimate disposal of ships' wastes to take place in an environmentally appropriate way.
With the aim of promoting the effective implementation of MARPOL, IMO has developed a port reception facilities module in the GISIS-database, including a list of available PRF in ports and the possibility to report cases of alleged inadequacies.
In 2006, IMO launched its "Action Plan on tackling the inadequacy of port reception facilities". The plan was developed by IMO's Flag State Implementation (FSI) Sub-Committee, on the basis of input from the Industry Port Reception Facilities Forum.
The plan specifically focussed on six key areas: reporting; information on port reception facilities; equipment and technology; types and amount of wastes; regulatory matters; and, technical cooperation and assistance.
FSI completed its work on this agenda item in 2010.
With well over 1 000 seaports, with an estimated total of 600 000 calls per year made by merchant ships and handling more than 3.5 billion tonnes of cargo every year, ship waste management in ports is a serious business in the European Union.
In 2000 the European Community adopted Directive 2000/59/EC on port reception facilities, with the aim of substantially reducing discharges of ship-generated waste and cargo residues into the sea.
This Directive especially aims at reducing illegal discharges from ships using ports in the EU by improving the availability and use of port reception facilities, thereby enhancing the protection of the marine environment.
Key requirements of the PRF Directive include:
Role of EMSA
In general, EMSA assists the European Commission and Member States in:
In 2005, the Commission, with the assistance of EMSA, started a broad evaluation of the implementation of the Directive and an assessment of the implementation of the waste reception and handling plans. This exercise was followed by monitoring visits to all EU Member States concerned. This cycle of visits, carried out by EMSA on behalf of the Commission, not only identified shortcomings in the implementation of the Directive, but also indicated the existence of best practices applied by Member States, ports, operators and shipping companies.
In 2010 EMSA also conducted a Horizontal Assessment (HA), based upon these inspection visits. The HA provides information to the Commission on the level of implementation of the PRF Directive by the Member States and other entities, but also identifies practices or actions that can help Member States implement the legislation and remedy identified problems. It also provides indications regarding the functioning and effectiveness of the legislation and possible areas for improvement.
The variety of interpretations of the provisions and obligations of the Directive, the repeated calls from stakeholders to provide guidance and clarification as well as to simplify procedures in line with the work of the IMO and the development of modern monitoring systems at EU level, clearly confirmed a need to review the current provisions of the Directive. This reviewing process has been initiated by the Commission.
In order to exchange views with Member States and industry stakeholders EMSA regularly organises workshops with Member States (e.g. workshop on PRF, Lisbon 13-14/04/2011) and meetings on specific technical issues (e.g. on cargo residues, Lisbon 02/03/2011).