Decarbonization has recently become a hot topic of discussion in the shipping community, notes Capt.Zhaoqingwei, Marine Safety Manager at DASIN SHIPPING PTE LTD and highlights that protecting the marine environment is not just about buzzwords like GHG, EEXI, IHM, LSFO, EU-MRV, etc. Considering the many cases of illegal discharges of oil and garbage at sea, Capt. Zhaoqingwei suggests ways to raise environmental awareness among crew members.
ow many of those anti-pollution rules that have been in place for years have actually been followed? For example, the most common ones such as oil waste and garbage? Why do we often hear news about ships being fined for illegal discharges?
Here we list some of the cases that happened this year:
- On Friday 26 February 2021, the chief officer and company of a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier were fined and convicted in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for dumping the equivalent of a 120-litre household garbage bin full of food waste into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
- In March 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice said that Singapore-based shipping company will pay $3 million in fines after pleading guilty to felony dumping violations in Hagatna, Guam.
- End of September 2021, Cyprus-based shipping company Diana Wilhelmsen Management Limited (DWM) has been sentenced to pay a $2 million fine by the US federal court.
The above are violations reported by the media, which may be just the tip of the iceberg. We do not know how many other vessels are still illegally discharging waste into the sea. Among these “illegal” discharges, some are intentional, and some are unintentional. Once the evidence of illegal discharge is caught, it may lead to fines or serious consequences such as detention of the ship and imprisonment of the perpetrator.
To raise awareness of environmental protection and to avoid “illegal” discharges, the following recommendations are for reference:
- More and more countries pay great attention to environmental protection, and developed countries even have drones dedicated to monitoring offshore emissions, so don’t think that no one knows about the secret emissions.
- Be familiar with the requirements of the MARPOL Convention, especially the scope of special areas, HME and other various concepts and requirements.
- Nearest land means from the baseline from which the territorial sea of the territory in question is established in accordance with international law. But there is an exception for Australia, eg on the north eastern coast of Australia, Australia’s nearest land boundary extends around the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) region and discharges permitted under MARPOL must be measured seaward of this boundary.
- Be aware of the IMO regulations regarding Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA)
- Before each arrival, you should consult your agent if there are any special requirements for pollution prevention, such as the VGP in the US and the special regulations for the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, etc. Also in Turkey, many ships are often fined for sludge discharge.
- When there is too much garbage on board, or there is waste such as cargo residue or wash water that is harmful to the marine environment, the ship should contact the charterer to send it to shore.
- The ship should post the garbage placard as required, and conduct regular training, and strictly require the crew to store and dispose waste according to the regulations.
- Overall, it is the consensus of every country in the world to protect the ecological environment of the earth, and it is also the responsibility of every citizen of the earth to do so. Just because we live on the same planet, sharing the same blue sky and sea, we can’t ask from every organization or individual to do so. But when thinking about those animals which died because of ocean pollution, we can ask from ourselves to start not throwing garbage, not discharging waste, and exchanging or treating ballast water as required. There is a good saying: “No Water, No Life. No Blue, No Green”, therefore, love the ocean, starting from ourselves!
The views presented are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.