United States: Coast Guard Officially Implements New Marpol Annex V Garbage Regulations

Last Updated: April 22 2013
Article by Jeanne Grasso, Dana S. Merkel and Jonathan K. Waldron


New Development

The U.S. Coast Guard published an Interim Rule on February 28, 2013 to implement the revised MARPOL Annex V garbage regulations.  The amendments to Annex V entered into force both internationally and domestically on January 1, 2013. The Interim Rule revises 33 C.F.R. Part 151 to reflect U.S. requirements under Annex V and can be found at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-02-28/pdf/2013-04616.pdf.  In addition, the Coast Guard issued a policy letter, Interim Guidance for Revised MARPOL Annex V Implementation (CG-CVC Policy Letter 13-01), to aid U.S. and foreign flag oceangoing vessels in ensuring compliance with the revised Annex V interim guidance to these new amendments, available at www.uscg.mil/TVNCOE/Documents/policyletters/CVCPolicyLtr2013.pdf


New MARPOL Annex V regulations addressing garbage management went into effect on January 1, 2013 pursuant to action taken by the Marine Environment Protection Committee ("MEPC") at its sixty-second session in July 2011. The new regulations impose stricter garbage management procedures and documentation requirements for all vessels and fixed and floating platforms and impose a general prohibition on the discharge of all garbage unless the discharge is expressly provided for under the regulations.  The new regulations allow the limited discharge of only four of categories of garbage: food waste, cargo residues and certain operational wastes not harmful to the marine environment, and carcasses of animals carried as cargo.  Further information on the amendments to Annex V can be found in our previous articles, Trash Talk: Are you Prepared for the New MARPOL Annex V Garbage Regulations, and Just When You Thought You Fully Understood MARPOL Annex V Garbage Regulations

Interim Rule

In accordance with the requirements of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (33 U.S.C. 1901, et seq.), the United States automatically accepted the amendments to Annex V when they entered into force.  The Interim Rule revises garbage management regulations to reflect the revised Annex V.  The Interim Rule addresses updates in three primary areas: updated operational requirements, new definitions, and replacement of placards.  In terms of operational requirements, the Interim Rule incorporates Annex V's general prohibition on the discharge of garbage into the sea.  Exceptions are provided per Annex V for conditional discharges of food wastes, cargo residues, cleaning agents and additives in wash water, and animal carcasses.  

The Interim Rule also adopts a number of definitional changes.  New definitions are provided for "cargo residues," "cooking oil," "en route," "fishing gear," "fixed or floating drilling rig or other platform," "harmful to the marine environment," "incinerator ashes," "International Maritime Organization Guidelines," and "recycling."  A number of other definitions have also been revised or incorporated into other definitions.  

The Interim Rule also alters and expands the placarding requirements.  It extends the placard posting requirement to include non-U.S.-flagged vessels that are 40 feet or more.  For vessels that already have placards posted, the Interim Rule removes the grandfathering provision for placards installed on vessels prior to May 7, 1997 and requires all placards to be replaced.  

Coast Guard Policy Letter Guidance

The Coast Guard published Interim Guidance for Revised MARPOL Annex V Implementation to ensure U.S. and foreign flag oceangoing ships are in compliance with MARPOL Annex V.  This new guidance was formally announced pursuant to a Notice of Availability published in the Federal Register on February 26, 2013 (78 Fed. Reg. 13073).  www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-02-26/pdf/2013-04319.pdf

The guidance notes that, as of January 1, 2013, all U.S. ships and platforms, both fixed and floating, are expected to meet the requirements of the revised Annex V.  A table summarizing the revised Annex V is attached to the guidance.  

The guidance outlines three important differences between the old and new garbage management requirements.  First, the format of the Garbage Record Book has been changed to account for increased restrictions on the discharge of garbage.  A sample Garbage Record Book is attached to the guidance.  Second, Garbage Management Plans must be revised to reflect the new requirements.  The requirement to have a Garbage Management Plan has also been expanded to include vessels of 100 gross tons and above.  

Finally, placards must be updated to reflect new requirements.  The guidance states that U.S. flagged vessels operating exclusively on domestic voyages may continue to use existing placards until U.S. regulations are updated and new placards are readily available.  However, U.S. flagged vessels on international voyages must meet the new placarding requirements as of January 1, 2013.  The guidance recommends the sample placards attached to the guidance be posted to ensure compliance. 


Now that the Coast Guard has fully implemented these new requirements, vessel owners and operators should review the revised garbage regulations and Coast Guard guidance to ensure compliance with these more stringent garbage management requirements and documentation/recordkeeping changes.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Jeanne Grasso
Dana S. Merkel
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