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Disposal of garbage into the Mediterranean from ships is prohibited from 1st May 2009  

REMPEC's initiative on garbage discharge requirements brings into effect MARPOL Annex V special area status for the Mediterranean

Athens/Malta, 10 April 2008 – The Marine Environment Protection (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) at its 57th Session (31st March – 4th April 2008), has adopted an MEPC resolution establishing the date on which the MARPOL Annex V (Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships) special area regulations shall take effect in the Mediterranean Sea.

MEPC decided that the discharge requirements for special areas of MARPOL Annex V shall take effect, for the Mediterranean Sea, on 1st May 2009. Consequently, for all ships, as from 1st May 2009, disposal into the Mediterranean Sea of the following is prohibited: all plastics, including but not limited to synthetic ropes, synthetic fishing nets and plastic garbage bags; and all other garbage, including paper products, rags, glass metal, bottles, crockery, dunnage, lining and packing materials.

The adoption of the resolution follows the notification at the same MEPC session by Albania, Algeria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey, representing States bordering the Mediterranean Sea special area, that adequate reception facilities for garbage are provided in all the relevant ports within the region.

Although the Mediterranean Sea was designated as a special area under Annex V of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the special area status of the Mediterranean Sea had not yet taken effect, as, according to MARPOL Annex V, the Government of each Party to the Convention, the coastline of which borders the special area in question, should notify the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that adequate reception facilities are provided in its ports within the special area.

Between 2002 and 2004, a technical assistance regional project financed by the European Commission’s MEDA Fund related to port reception facilities in the Mediterranean region (“Port reception facilities for collecting ship-generated garbage, bilge waters and oily wastes – MED.B7.4100.0415.8") was implemented by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) in ten Mediterranean coastal States. Moreover, REMPEC carried out similar activities in other Mediterranean countries.

The results of the assessment carried out in relevant ports within the framework of these REMPEC activities concluded that adequate port reception facilities for garbage were provided. Thus, the conditions required for the special area status of the Mediterranean Sea to take effect with regard to MARPOL ANNEX V were in practice being met.

In view of this the 8th Meeting of REMPEC Focal Points (Malta, 7–11 May 2007), agreed that the Mediterranean coastal States Parties to the MARPOL Annex V present a joint submission to the IMO’s MEPC, notifying that adequate reception facilities for garbage were provided in their respective ports. The Meeting also accepted the proposal of Cyprus to present the relative joint submission to MEPC, and agreed to entrust REMPEC to co-ordinate this initiative at regional level.

Subsequently, the Centre prepared and co-ordinated the co-sponsorship of the relative document which was submitted to the last session of MEPC by Cyprus on behalf of Albania, Algeria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Syria and Tunisia.

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