Australian Maritime Safety Authority

MARPOL pollution reporting

How and when to report pollution incidents

Marine pollution reporting allows the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and other responsible agencies to be informed and act quickly when there is an incident. There are specific reporting requirements for ships under the MARPOL Convention for the prevention of pollution from ships.

Who is responsible for MARPOL reporting?

The master or other person having charge of any ship involved in an incident is required to make the report.

If this can’t be done, the owner, charterer, manager or operator of the ship, or their agent is responsible for making the report.

Reporting an incident

There are requirements under the MARPOL Convention for reporting pollution or potential pollution incidents and to who they should be reported.

The Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP) should detail contact points for reporting. The AMSA notice on reporting MARPOL incidents, below, provides relevant contact points in Australia and should be retained with the SOPEP in Australian Waters.

In addition to notifying AMSA, if a ship is in port or in coastal waters at the time of an incident, or a potential incident, local authorities should also be notified using these contact points.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) maintains global contact points for reporting on pollution incidents, under Contact Points in the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS).

Reporting format for MARPOL incidents

MARPOL reports should be submitted in the standard format adopted by the IMO under Resolutions A.851(20) and MEPC.138(53).
Note, the reporting format for oil or noxious liquid substances (NLS) is different to that for packaged dangerous goods.
These formats are also contained in:

  • Marine Order 91 - oil
  • Marine Order 93 - noxious liquid substances
  • Marine Order 94 - packaged harmful substances.

When is MARPOL incident reporting required?

A MARPOL report is necessary when an incident involves any of the following:

  • a discharge above the permitted level or probable discharge of oil or of noxious liquid substances for whatever reason including those for the purpose of securing the safety of the ship or for saving life at sea
  • a discharge or probable discharge of harmful substances (see Further information) in packaged form, including those in freight containers, portable tanks, road and rail vehicles and shipborne barges
  • damage, failure or breakdown of a ship of 15 metres in length or above which:
    • affects the safety of the ship; including but not limited to collision, grounding, fire, explosion, structural failure, flooding and cargo shifting
    • results in impairment of the safety of navigation; including but not limited to, failure or breakdown of steering gear, propulsion plant, electrical generating system, and essential shipborne navigational aids
    • a discharge during the operation of the ship of oil or noxious liquid substances in excess of the quantity or instantaneous rate permitted under the present Convention.

For the purpose of Annex III of MARPOL, a harmful substance in packaged form is identified as a marine pollutant in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code.

If you witness a ship-sourced pollution incident, please lodge a report.

Further information

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