Chapter 2 Resolution MEPC.193(61): (Revised MARPOL Annex III: Regulations
for the Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in
Packaged Form) Adopted at London on 1 October 2010
On 7 February 2012, the Resolution MEPC.193(61): (Revised MARPOL
Annex III: Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances
Carried by Sea in Packaged Form) Adopted at London on 1 October 2010 was
tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament.
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from
Ships (MARPOL) is one of the key international instruments addressing the
problem of marine pollution from ships. MARPOL contains six technical annexes
dealing with, respectively: oil; noxious liquid substances in bulk; harmful
substances in packaged form; sewage; garbage; and air pollution.
The proposed treaty action is tacit acceptance of a revised version of
Annex III of MARPOL adopted on 1 October 2010 by the Marine Environment
Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
under cover of resolution MEPC.193(61). Annex III establishes Regulations for
the prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea. The revision
is primarily to maintain consistency with the mandatory IMO International Maritime
Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. This code sets out the
requirements for packing, marking, labelling, documentation, stowage, and
quantity limitations that must be complied with in order to satisfy the
Regulations in the revised Annex III and to strengthen port State control
Witnesses before the Committee noted that incidents of pollution from
harmful substances are ‘relatively infrequent’ and that ‘chemical spills are
relatively rare anywhere around the world, particularly large ones’.
What we are dealing with here, essentially, is the stowage
and packaging of the chemicals on board so that if there is a leak from a
particular container there is nothing stored next to it that can cause some
sort of reaction and cause a problem. These regulations are about making sure
that the different chemicals are segregated on board a ship so that if there is
a leak it does not lead to a bigger problem.
Overview and national interest summary
The carriage of harmful substances in packaged form potentially poses a
major threat to the marine environment, and has the potential to damage vessels
and harm human life. The revised Annex III will ensure that substances are
carried in accordance with the latest international standards and will result
in an enhanced port State control inspection program which will ensure that
operational requirements are complied with at the time of departure by ships
from Australian ports.
Reasons for Australia to take the proposed treaty action
Acceptance of the revised Annex III is consistent with Australia's
long-standing support for protection of the marine environment and with
Australia's active backing of and participation in meetings of the IMO.
MARPOL affirms the Parties’ desire to achieve the complete elimination
of intentional marine pollution. The revised annex will help achieve this aim
by providing greater protection for the marine environment that is vulnerable
to pollution by accidental discharge of harmful substances in packaged form.
In addition, acceptance of the revised Annex III is in accordance with
Australia's general obligations as a Party to the United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea, which provides for States to adopt generally
accepted international rules and standards when implementing laws and
regulations to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment
from vessels (Article 211 of UNCLOS).
Regulation 3 clarifies the requirement for durable labelling of
harmful substances in packaged form to indicate that they are harmful by
specifying that they must be marked or labelled in accordance with the IMDG
Code. The method for affixing marks or labels must also be in accordance with
the IMDG Code.
Regulation 4 requires documentation related to the carriage of
harmful substances to be in accordance with the IMDG Code and revises the text
relating to the requirements for a special list, stowage plan or manifest of
harmful substances carried on a ship to be made available to the port State
authority before a ship's departure.
Regulation 8 clarifies the powers of authorised officers to
inspect ships during port State control inspections with regard to the
operational requirements of the revised Annex III. Under the revised
Regulation, such powers are provided regardless of whether or not there
are clear grounds for believing that the master or crew are not familiar with
essential shipboard procedures. These amendments will have no impact on the
number of ships the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) inspects as
part of its port State control inspection program. The only parties impacted
will be the master or crew of a ship that is found not to be familiar with
essential shipboard procedures. The existing power to detain such a ship is
Appendix to the revised Annex III (containing technical criteria
for the identification of harmful substances) has been amended to include
details of the degradability and chronic toxicity of substances for fish, crustaceans
and algae and other aquatic plants.
Minor amendments will be needed to the Marine Orders, Part 94 (Marine
Pollution Prevention – Packaged Harmful Substances), to implement the proposed
The revised Annex III will not result in any increased costs or savings
to the Australian Government or to the States and Territories.
The Committee welcomes the adoption of these regulations. Members are
The compliance with the segregation of chemicals on board is
very high and there are normally few issues. It is not in anybody’s interest to
put chemicals side by side that might cause a problem on board the ship,
because the safety of the crew as well as the environment are at issue. So
there is very high compliance within the industry internationally on this type
of thing. 
Notwithstanding this reassurance, the Committee notes that there is
increasing shipping traffic in Australian waters, primarily as a result of the
mining boom and offshore oil and gas exploration. The additional traffic will
only increase the chances of accidents at sea involving harmful substances. While
these regulations relate to only one aspect of shipboard cargo handling, their
adoption will strengthen the efforts of the Australian Maritime Safety
Authority to improve ship safety and prevent or reduce marine pollution in
Australian waters and internationally.
||The Committee supports the Resolution MEPC.193(61):
(Revised MARPOL Annex III: Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by
Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form) Adopted at London on 1
October 2010 and recommends that binding treaty action be taken.