Advisory circular 2013

This advisory circular applies to Marine Protection Rules Part 170: Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships, and Part 131: Offshore Installations - OSCP.

1. Purpose of the advisory circular

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) advisory circulars are designed to give assistance and explanations about the standards and requirements set out in the maritime rules. However, the notes contained in advisory circulars should not be treated as a substitute for the rules themselves, which are the law.

If an advisory circular sets out how a rule can be satisfied, then compliance with that advice ensures compliance with the rule. Other methods of complying with the rule may be possible, however MNZ would first need to be satisfied that those alternative methods were of an equivalent standard to the advice in the advisory circular. The advisory circular would then be amended to include those equivalents.

This advisory circular supports Marine Protection Rules Part 170 and aspects of Part 131, which regulates garbage discharges from offshore installations. When a number reference is used, for example 170.6, it relates to that specific rule within Part 170.

2. Background to maritime garbage rules

New Zealand has strict regulations in place that all vessel operators must follow to prevent pollution of the sea from garbage. New Zealand is party to Annex V of MARPOL 73/78, the International Convention on Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Annex V is given effect through two complementary pieces of regulation – Marine Protection Rules Parts 170 and 131 (drafted under the Maritime Transport Act), and the Resource Management (Marine Pollution) Regulations (drafted under the Resource Management Act).

The Marine Protection Rules Parts 170 and 131 restrict garbage discharges in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and describe operational requirements (such as placards, garbage management plans and log books) for vessels operating anywhere in New Zealand’s jurisdiction. The Resource Management (Marine Pollution) Regulations enact restrictions on garbage discharges within the coastal marine area (CMA) Regulatory jurisdiction is illustrated in the figure below.

Regulation of garbage pollution in the marine environment

The rules changed in January 2013 as a result of changes to the international maritime regulations. The Resource Management (Marine Pollution) regulations will be updated by the Ministry for the Environment to align them with the garbage discharge restrictions and definitions in the Marine Protection Rules.

3. Who does this apply to?

Marine Protection Rules Part 170 applies to New Zealand ships and pleasure vessels and to foreign ships operating in New Zealand’s EEZ. Marine Protection Rules Part 131: Offshore Installations- OSCPs applies to management of garbage on offshore installations (for example, oil rigs, platforms, FPSOs).

4. What does it mean?

4.1 Discharge requirements (Subpart A and C)

Part 170 now prohibits the discharge of all garbage unless explicitly permitted. This reverses the historical presumption that garbage may be discharged into the sea based on the nature of the garbage and defined distances from shore. It should be noted that even more restrictive discharge requirements apply to vessels operating in Special Areas (such as the Antarctic Area). These are further defined in Subpart C of the rules. For a summary of all garbage discharge restrictions see below.

Discharge Garbage type
Prohibited Plastics, synthetic ropes, fishing gear, plastic garbage bags, incinerator ashes, clinkers, cooking oil, dunnage, lining and packing materials that float, paper, glass, metal, bottles, crockery and similar refuse.
Conditional Food, cargo residues, cleaning agents, animal carcasses.
Unregulated by garbage rules Grey water, bilge water, fish and shellfish (from fishing or aquaculture).

When garbage is mixed with or contaminated by other substances prohibited from discharge or having different discharge requirements, the more stringent requirements shall apply.

4.2 Conditional discharges

Where discharge of certain material is permitted, it is subject to conditions. Vessels undertaking conditional discharges of garbage must generally be en route and as far as practicable from the nearest land. This material includes:

4.2.1 Food (170.6)

Food waste may be discharged at least 12 nautical miles (nm) from the nearest land unless it is ground (or comminuted), so that particles are no larger than 25mm in diameter, in which case the food waste may be discharged no closer than 3nm from shore.

4.2.2 Cargo residues (170.7(c))

Cargo residues must be recovered using commonly available methods for unloading ashore. If unloading is not possible, cargo residues may be discharged at least 12 nm from shore. Cargo residues are prohibited from discharge overboard if they are harmful to the marine environment.

Cargo residues are harmful to the marine environment if they are toxic to aquatic organisms, carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic, cause targeted toxicity to organs with repeated exposure, or are synthetic polymer, rubber or plastic solid bulk cargoes. More information regarding the criteria for determining whether cargo residues are harmful to the marine environment can be found in Section 3.2 of the Guidelines for the Implementation of MARPOL Annex V.

Between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2014, while shippers are acquiring adequate and reliable data on solid bulk cargo carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity or specific target organ toxicity (repeated exposure), provisional classification of solid bulk cargo based on the other criteria in Section 3.2 of the Guidelines will be acceptable. However, a precautionary approach to cargo residue discharge by operators is encouraged.

4.2.3 Cleaning agents (170.9)

Cleaning agents or additives that are harmful to the marine environment are prohibited from discharge into the sea, even if they are entrained in washwater. Section 1.7.4–1.7.6 of the Guidelines for the Implementation of MARPOL Annex V provide direction for determining whether cleaning agents are harmful to the marine environment. The Guidelines explain that cleaning agents are harmful to the marine environment if they are defined as a marine pollutant in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (see Marine Protection Rule Part 150), or if they are carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic.

To aid compliance with the rules, operators should select cleaning agents with clear documentation about their toxicity. As a guide, if cleaning agents have either of the following pictograms displayed on their labelling, then they are ‘harmful to the marine environment’ and therefore unsuitable for discharge overboard:

The labelling on cleaning agents typically instructs users about the safe use and disposal of the product. The onus for clear labelling and the provision of information (such as Material Safety Data Sheets) describing the toxicity of cleaning agents lies with the manufacturer and supplier. Vessel operators can use any cleaning agent, but those that are harmful to the marine environment must not be disposed of into the sea. Harmful washwater must be retained on board and discharged to an onshore waste reception facility.  


4.2.4 Animal carcasses (170.8)

Animal carcasses may only be discharged into the sea while the ship is en route, and as far as practicable from the nearest land. Ship owners and operators engaged in livestock trade should obtain a copy of the Guidelines, and refer in particular to section 2.12.

The discharge should take place more than 100 nautical miles from land, and in the deepest water possible. Animal carcasses should also be passed through a grinder or comminuter, or have their thoracic and abdominal cavities opened prior to discharge.

It should be noted that Parts 170 and 131 do not apply to product and material that has been harvested at sea, or bait that is discharged during fishing.

4.3 Operational requirements (Subpart D)

Subpart D of Part 170 sets out the requirements for placards, garbage management plans and garbage record books for New Zealand and foreign ships.

4.3.1 Placards (170.18 and 170.23, 131.81)

Owners and masters must ensure that the information about garbage discharge illustrated on a placard is conveyed in the working language of the crew and is relevant for the specific operating circumstances of the vessel. Information regarding garbage management for passengers should be kept simple and in a language appropriate to the likely audience. An example of placards for different audiences (crew, passengers, on offshore installations) is available in the Guidelines for the Implementation of MARPOL Annex V.

Stickers published previously by Maritime New Zealand and used on some vessels to fulfil placard requirements are now out of date and should be replaced.

In some instances, new stickers provided by Maritime New Zealand will not provide sufficient guidance, that is, if the crew do not speak English or there are garbage management processes specific to the type of vessel and its area of operation.

4.3.2 Garbage management plans (170.19, 170.24, 131.82)

All ships of 100 tonnes gross and above, as well as every ship certified to carry 15 persons or more, must carry a garbage management plan.

The garbage management plan should designate the person responsible for carrying out the plan and should be in the working language of the crew. Depending on the complexity of garbage handling on board the vessel, garbage management plans need not be particularly lengthy. The 2012 Guidelines for the development of Garbage Management Plans provide supplementary information.

4.3.3 Garbage record books (170.20, 170.25, Appendix – Form of Garbage Record Book, 131.83)

The format for Garbage Record Books described in Part 170 changed in January 2013 from the previous template. Garbage has been re-categorised to allow better tracking of garbage.

Section 4.2 of the Part 170 Appendix requires operators to obtain a receipt for garbage landed ashore. When a receipt is not available, due to the nature of the reception facility or timing of the discharge, this should be indicated in the record book.

4.3.4 Reporting lost fishing gear (170.21)

In addition to a record in the garbage record book, the accidental loss or discharge of fishing gear that poses a significant threat to the marine environment or navigation must be reported. There is a ‘no blame’ approach to lost gear reporting – rather, reports will be used to improve practices so that less fishing gear is lost.

Submissions from industry have highlighted that further work is required to ensure that the mechanism for lost fishing gear reporting is pragmatic and generates worthwhile information. While this is in development, and as an interim measure, lost fishing gear should be reported to:
Lost Fishing Gear Reports
Maritime New Zealand
PO Box 25620
Wellington 6141

Reports should include the following information:

  • gear type (for example, trawl net, set net, cray pot, bottom longline, dredge)
  • location (description and longitude and latitude)
  • time and date of loss
  • cause of loss
  • proposed mitigation to prevent further similar losses
  • vessel name
  • contact details.

5. Garbage in Special Areas

The Annex V Special Areas under MARPOL are: the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Red Sea, the Middle Eastern Gulfs area, the North Sea, the wider Caribbean area (including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea), and the Antarctic Area (the sea area south of latitude 60°S). These areas are classified as such due to reasons relating to their oceanographic and ecological condition and to their sea traffic. Discharge restrictions for these areas are more stringent and are described in Subpart C of Part 170.

6. Garbage reception facilities

There is an expectation that ports will provide, on a commercial basis, adequate garbage reception facilities for port customers. Where these are not made available, port operators may be required under section 236 of the Maritime Transport Act to provide a garbage reception facility (see Marine Protection Rule Part 100). A list of garbage reception facilities can be found here. If you encounter inadequate port reception facilities, please advise Maritime New Zealand. International operators are also encouraged to submit the form to report inadequate port reception facilities.

Material incorporated by reference

Standards and codes referenced in some rules can be found here

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