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 Sea2 Nov 19732 Oct 19832 Oct 1983
Baltic Sea2 Nov 19732 Oct 19832 Oct 1983
Black Sea2 Nov 19732 Oct 19832 Oct 1983
Red Sea2 Nov 19732 Oct 1983*
“Gulfs” area2 Nov 19732 Oct 19831 Aug 2008
Gulf of Aden1 Dec 19871 Apr 1989*
Antarctic area16 Nov 199017 Mar 199217 Mar 1992
North West European Waters25 Sept 19971 Feb 19991 Aug 1999
Oman area of the Arabian Sea15 Oct 20041 Jan 2007*
Southern South African waters13 Oct 20061 Mar 20081 Aug 2008
Annex II: Noxious Liquid Substances
Antarctic area30 Oct 19921 Jul 19941 Jul 1994
Annex IV: Sewage
Baltic Sea15 Jul 20111 Jan 2013**
Annex V: Garbage
Mediterranean Sea2 Nov 197331 Dec 19881 May 2009
Baltic Sea2 Nov 197331 Dec 19881 Oct 1989
Black Sea2 Nov 197331 Dec 1988*
Red Sea2 Nov 197331 Dec 1988*
“Gulfs” area2 Nov 197331 Dec 19881 Aug 2008
North Sea17 Oct 198918 Feb 199118 Feb 1991
Antarctic area (south of latitude 60 degrees south)16 Nov 199017 Mar 199217 Mar 1992
Wider Caribbean region including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea4 Jul 19914 Apr 19931 May 2011
Annex VI: Prevention of air pollution by ships (Emission Control Areas)
Baltic Sea (SOx )26 Sept 199719 May 200519 May 2006
North Sea (SOx)22 Jul 200522 Nov 200622 Nov 2007
North American ECA
(SOx and PM)
26 Mar 20101 Aug 20111 Aug 2012
(NOx)26 Mar 20101 Aug 2011***
United States
Caribbean Sea ECA
(SOx and PM)
26 Jul 20111 Jan 20131 Jan 2014
(NOx)26 Jul 20111 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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