Today is a day of celebration for the maritime industry as it celebrates the World Maritime Day, under the theme MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on.
What is World Maritime Day?
orld Maritime Day is an annual event observed on the last Thursday of September each year. It was originally established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to raise awareness about the importance of shipping and maritime activities in global trade, sustainable development, and the world economy.
The theme for World Maritime Day varies from year to year, focusing on different aspects of the maritime industry and its role in addressing global challenges.
MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on
This year’s theme focuses on two important facts. Firstly, it reflects IMO’s long history of protecting the environment from the impact of shipping via a robust regulatory framework and emphasizes its ongoing commitment to this important work.
A lot has changed in shipping in the 50 years since the MARPOL Convention was adopted on 2 November 1973, and IMO’s commitment to protecting and preserving the marine environment has remained unwavering
… said IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim
On the other hand, it shines a spotlight on the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which covers prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
At the same time, ‘MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on’ promotes discussions on the next phase of IMO’s work to further protect the planet and the oceans, is also linked to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include:
- affordable and clean energy (SDG 7);
- industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9);
- climate action and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources (SDGs 13 and 14);
- and the importance of partnerships and implementation to achieve these goals (SDG 17)
The World Maritime Theme for 2023 will allow us to celebrate this legacy, while also underscoring our dedication to building on the existing foundations as we move towards a brighter future together
… explained the Secretary-General
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)
MARPOL stands for the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, and it is one of the most important international treaties governing maritime pollution. It was adopted by the IMO and entered into force on October 2, 1983.
MARPOL has been amended several times to strengthen its provisions and address evolving environmental concerns. It aims to accomplish this by setting specific regulations and standards for various types of pollution, such as oil pollution, noxious liquid substances, harmful substances in packaged form, sewage, garbage, and air emissions.
MARPOL also establishes regulations for the design, equipment, and operational procedures of ships to minimize their impact on the environment.
These regulations cover various aspects of shipping, including the construction and maintenance of ships, the handling and disposal of various types of waste, and emissions from shipboard machinery.
The Convention is organized into annexes, each of which addresses specific types of pollution or pollutants. The six main annexes to MARPOL are:
- Annex I: Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil
- Annex II: Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk
- Annex III: Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form
- Annex IV: Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships
- Annex V: Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships
- Annex VI: Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships
MARPOL is a globally accepted treaty, and its regulations are binding on all ships flagged by countries that are parties to the convention. The convention also designates “Special Areas” where stricter anti-pollution measures apply to protect particularly sensitive sea areas.
Overall, MARPOL has played a significant role in reducing marine pollution and improving the environmental performance of the shipping industry.
The IMO-UNEP-Norway Innovation Forum 2023 will take place as part of the World Maritime Day celebrations. The 2023 theme is “MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on”.
Topics will include: Environmental performance; reducing plastic litter from ships; supporting innovation in marine fuel production; decarbonizing the maritime sector; unlocking green finance; and partnerships and collaboration.
Furthermore, IMO Headquarters will be bathed in blue light in the evening of the day to promote this year’s theme. IMO invited Member States, intergovernmental organizations in cooperation with IMO, and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO to lighting up landmarks.
Finally, IMO also invited Members States and everyone in the maritime industry to celebrate the day by using the hashtag #WorldMaritimeDay and tagging IMO on social media.