Laws & Conventions

Special Areas under MARPOL

Written by Amit Sharma

In Annex I: Prevention of pollution by oilAnnex II: Control of pollution by noxious liquid substancesAnnex IV: Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships and Annex V: Prevention of pollution by garbage from ships,   MARPOL defines certain sea areas as “special areas” in which, for technical reasons relating to their oceanographical and ecological condition and to their sea traffic, the adoption of special mandatory methods for the prevention of sea pollution is required. Under the Convention, these special areas are provided with a higher level of protection than other areas of the sea.
Annex VI Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships establishes certain sulphur oxide (SOx) Emission Control Areas with more stringent controls on sulphur emissions and nitrogen oxides (NOx) Emission Control Areas for Tier III NOx emission standards.

Special areas under MARPOL are as follows:

Adoption, entry into force & date of taking effect of Special Areas

Special Areas
Adopted #
Date of Entry into Force
In Effect From
Annex I: Oil
Mediterranean Sea 2 Nov 1973 2 Oct 1983 2 Oct 1983
Baltic Sea 2 Nov 1973 2 Oct 1983 2 Oct 1983
Black Sea 2 Nov 1973 2 Oct 1983 2 Oct 1983
Red Sea 2 Nov 1973 2 Oct 1983 *
“Gulfs” area 2 Nov 1973 2 Oct 1983 1 Aug 2008
Gulf of Aden 1 Dec 1987 1 Apr 1989 *
Antarctic area 16 Nov 1990 17 Mar 1992 17 Mar 1992
North West European Waters 25 Sept 1997 1 Feb 1999 1 Aug 1999
Oman area of the Arabian Sea 15 Oct 2004 1 Jan 2007 *
Southern South African waters 13 Oct 2006 1 Mar 2008 1 Aug 2008
Annex II: Noxious Liquid Substances
Antarctic area 30 Oct 1992 1 Jul 1994 1 Jul 1994
Annex IV: Sewage
Baltic Sea 15 Jul 2011 1 Jan 2013 **
Annex V: Garbage
Mediterranean Sea 2 Nov 1973 31 Dec 1988 1 May 2009
Baltic Sea 2 Nov 1973 31 Dec 1988 1 Oct 1989
Black Sea 2 Nov 1973 31 Dec 1988 *
Red Sea 2 Nov 1973 31 Dec 1988 *
“Gulfs” area 2 Nov 1973 31 Dec 1988 1 Aug 2008
North Sea 17 Oct 1989 18 Feb 1991 18 Feb 1991
Antarctic area (south of latitude 60 degrees south) 16 Nov 1990 17 Mar 1992 17 Mar 1992
Wider Caribbean region including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea 4 Jul 1991 4 Apr 1993 1 May 2011
Annex VI: Prevention of air pollution by ships (Emission Control Areas)
Baltic Sea (SOx ) 26 Sept 1997 19 May 2005 19 May 2006
North Sea (SOx) 22 Jul 2005 22 Nov 2006 22 Nov 2007
North American ECA
(SOx and PM)
26 Mar 2010 1 Aug 2011 1 Aug 2012
(NOx) 26 Mar 2010 1 Aug 2011 ***
United States
Caribbean Sea ECA
(SOx and PM)
26 Jul 2011 1 Jan 2013 1 Jan 2014
(NOx) 26 Jul 2011 1 Jan 2013 ***

# Status of multilateral conventions and instruments in respect of which the International Maritime Organization or its Secretary-General perform depositary or other functions as at 31 December 2002.

* The Special Area requirements for these areas have not yet taken effect because of lack of notifications from MARPOL Parties whose coastlines border the relevant special areas on the existence of adequate reception facilities (regulations 38.6 of MARPOL Annex I and 5(4) of MARPOL Annex V).

** The new special area requirements, which entered into force on 1 January 2013, will only take effect upon receipt of sufficient notifications on the existence of adequate reception facilities from Parties to MARPOL Annex IV whose coastlines border the relevant special area (regulation 13.2 of the revised MARPOL Annex IV, which was adopted by resolution MEPC.200(62) and which entered into force on 1 January 2013).

*** A ship constructed on or after 1 January 2016 and is operating in these emission control areas shall comply with NOx Tier III standards set forth in regulation 13.5 of MARPOL Annex VI.

About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.

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