Regulation of Ships


Ballast Water Convention SOLAS (pending) MARPOL (pending) Anti-Fouling Convention (pending)


The Spanish tuna purse seiner F/V TXORI-EDER

Photo 38: The Spanish tuna purse seiner F/V TXORI-EDER.
(NOAA Photo Library.)

Based on long established traditions, ships have recognized rights (and duties) that must be respected by the coastal State in whose waters the ships operate. Conversely, coastal States have the ability to impose certain regulations on international shipping. The careful balance between the rights of coastal States and international shipping duties is set forth in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. In light of the growing importance of safe navigation, the preservation of the marine environment, and the recognition of increasing threats to the environment's health, a number of international agreements have been negotiated to address concerns of pollution of the marine environment from ships and other sources, including the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS); the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) (document download) and its six Annexes: I. Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil (10/02/83) (document download), II. Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk (04/06/87) and (document download), III. Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form (07/01/92) and (document download), IV. Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships (09/27/03) (document download), V. Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships (12/31/88) (document download), and VI. Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships (05/19/05) (document download); the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships (09/27/08); and the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (not yet entered into force) and document download.

Additional reference information: Some of these links are to external sites.

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