Description

Discharges of sewage or litter from commercial or recreational vessels

Key locations

Discharges potentially take place throughout the coastal waters of Berwickshire and Northumberland.  Ballast exchange takes place at Berwick Harbour.

Frequency

As required

Potential issues

Introduction of non-native species and pathogens, plus toxic and non-toxic contaminants

Features of Marine Protected Areas which might be affected

  • Reefs
  • Sea caves
  • Sand and mud flats
  • Inlets and bays
  • Grey seal
  • Birds (wintering and breeding)

Legal Responsibilities or Duties (England)

A number of legal powers, duties or regulatory tools exist which are relevant to this activity and its management. These are summarised in the table below:

Legal Power, Duty or Regulatory Tool Relevant Legislation Lead Organisation
Requirement for ships above a certain size to have a garbage management plan and sewage treatment facilities The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 MCA
Prohibition on disposal of plastic garbage from vessels at sea The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 MCA
Requirement for Marine Licences for deposits at sea Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (Section 71) Marine Management Organisation

Relevant Guidance, Plans or Codes (England)

The following guidance, codes, plans or strategies are also relevant to the management of this activity:

Name Description Responsible Organisation Statutory or Non-Statutory?
Marine Guidance Note 385 (M+F) Guidance on the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 MCA Non-Statutory
Marine Guidance Note 280 (M) Small Vessels in Commercial Use for Sport or Pleasure, Workboats and Pilot Boats – Alternative Construction Standards MCA Non-Statutory
Marine Guidance Note  363 (M+F) The Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments MCA Non-Statutory

Details of Current Management (England)

The management framework for discharges at sea derives largely from international treaty obligations on the prevention of marine pollution. Further details are provided below:

General waste and discharges:

Most international regulations on marine pollution come from the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which was updated in 1978. MARPOL was developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and is aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships.

The disposal of garbage and sewage from ships is a major environmental issue which is addressed in Annexes IV and V of MARPOL. Within the UK, Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Garbage) Regulations 1998 were developed to address this and were updated in 2008 to reflect changes made to the system internationally. These can be downloaded at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-385-prevention-of-pollution-by-sewage-and-garbage-from-ships-regulations-2008

Annex 5 of MARPOL prohibits the at-sea disposal of plastic waste from ships.

In addition, under these Regulations:

  • every ship of 12 metres or more must display placards informing crew and passengers about disposal requirements for garbage
  • every ship of 400 gross tonnes or certificated for 15 passengers or more must have a garbage management plan and maintain a garbage record book

The Regulations also specify that vessels covered by the regulations must have at least one of the following:

  • a sewage treatment plant which complies with the Merchant Shipping (Marine Equipment) Regulations 1999
  • a sewage comminuting [pulverising] and disinfecting system, with facilities for temporary storage of sewage
  • a holding tank for the retention of sewage which has sufficient capacity and has a visual indicator of the amount of its contents
  • Sewage that has been treated can be discharged anywhere at sea. Sewage that has been comminuted [pulverised] and disinfected can be discharged a minimum of three miles from the nearest land. Untreated sewage must be discharged no less than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land. In all the above cases the vessel must be proceeding at not less than 4 knots when making the discharge.

Other ships can opt into the provisions of the regulations and for smaller vessels guidance is provided by the Small Commercial Vessel and Pilot Boat Code of Practice. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-280-small-vessels-in-commercial-use-for-sport

Under the MARPOL Convention, the North Sea is a designated Special Area, in which, the adoption of special mandatory methods for the prevention of sea pollution is required. Under the Convention, Special Areas are provided with a higher level of protection than other areas of the sea. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) enforces the requirements of the Convention in UK waters and respond to spill incidents. Discharge of waste from vessels are regulated through a vessel certification system that is issued and enforced by the MCA. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Marine Scotland (MS) licenses deposits at sea and dumping of waste.

Ballast Water Management:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has developed a Convention aimed at preventing these harmful effects, adopting the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the Ballast Water Management Convention) in 2004. This convention provides a structure to address the issues of ballast water and provides two performance standards for the discharge of ballast water – D1 and D2.

The D1 standard is for ballast water exchange, and specifies the volume of water to be replaced.

The D2 standard covers approved ballast water treatment systems, and specifies levels of viable organisms left in water after treatment.

Guidelines associated with the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 include:

  • Ballast Water Exchange
  • Recording and Reporting Ballast Management Ballast Water Treatment
  • Minimising uptake of organisms, removing of sediment and avoiding unnecessary discharge
  • Ship Ballast Water Management Plans

At present, the guidelines are not legally required, but shipping agents and ship owners are strongly urged to ensure that vessels discharging ballast in United Kingdom waters comply with them to reduce the spread of disease and non-indigenous nuisance species that may be in the water.

Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-363-the-control-and-management-of-ships-ballast-water

Gaps in Management (England)

Ballast water guidelines are only voluntary at present

Legal Responsibilities or Duties (Scotland)

A number of legal powers, duties or regulatory tools exist which are relevant to this activity and its management. These are summarised in the table below:

Legal Power, Duty or Regulatory Tool Relevant Legislation Lead Organisation
Requirement for ships above a certain size to have a garbage management plan and sewage treatment facilities The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 MCA
Prohibition on disposal of plastic garbage from vessels at sea The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 MCA
Requirement for Marine Licences for deposits at sea Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (Section 20) Marine Scotland

Relevant Guidance, Plans or Codes (Scotland)

The following guidance, codes, plans or strategies are also relevant to the management of this activity:

Name Description Responsible Organisation Statutory or Non-Statutory?
Marine Guidance Note 385 (M+F) Guidance on the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 MCA Non-Statutory
Marine Guidance Note 280 (M) Small Vessels in Commercial Use for Sport or Pleasure, Workboats and Pilot Boats – Alternative Construction Standards MCA Non-Statutory
Marine Guidance Note  363 (M+F) The Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments MCA Non-Statutory

Details of Current Management (Scotland)

The management framework for discharges at sea derives largely from international treaty obligations on the prevention of marine pollution. Further details are provided below:

General waste and discharges:

Most international regulations on marine pollution come from the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which was updated in 1978. MARPOL was developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and is aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships.

The disposal of garbage and sewage from ships is a major environmental issue which is addressed in Annexes IV and V of MARPOL. Within the UK, Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Garbage) Regulations 1998 were developed to address this and were updated in 2008 to reflect changes made to the system internationally. These can be downloaded at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-385-prevention-of-pollution-by-sewage-and-garbage-from-ships-regulations-2008

Under these Regulations:

  • every ship of 12 metres or more must display placards informing crew and passengers about disposal requirements for garbage
  • every ship of 400 gross tonnes or certificated for 15 passengers or more must have a garbage management plan and maintain a garbage record book

The Regulations also specify that vessels covered by the regulations must have at least one of the following:

  • a sewage treatment plant which complies with the Merchant Shipping (Marine Equipment) Regulations 1999
  • a sewage comminuting [pulverising] and disinfecting system, with facilities for temporary storage of sewage
  • a holding tank for the retention of sewage which has sufficient capacity and has a visual indicator of the amount of its contents
  • Sewage that has been treated can be discharged anywhere at sea. Sewage that has been comminuted [pulverised] and disinfected can be discharged a minimum of three miles from the nearest land. Untreated sewage must be discharged no less than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land. In all the above cases the vessel must be proceeding at not less than 4 knots when making the discharge.

Other ships can opt into the provisions of the regulations and for smaller vessels guidance is provided by the Small Commercial Vessel and Pilot Boat Code of Practice. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-280-small-vessels-in-commercial-use-for-sport

Under the MARPOL Convention, the North Sea is a designated Special Area, in which, the adoption of special mandatory methods for the prevention of sea pollution is required. Under the Convention, Special Areas are provided with a higher level of protection than other areas of the sea. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) enforce the requirements of the Convention in UK waters and respond to spill incidents. Discharge of waste from vessels are regulated through a vessel certification system that is issued and enforced by the MCA. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Marine Scotland (MS) licenses deposits at sea and dumping of waste.

Ballast Water Management:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has developed a Convention aimed at preventing these harmful effects, adopting the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the Ballast Water Management Convention) in 2004. This convention provides a structure to address the issues of ballast water and provides two performance standards for the discharge of ballast water – D1 and D2.

The D1 standard is for ballast water exchange, and specifies the volume of water to be replaced.

The D2 standard covers approved ballast water treatment systems, and specifies levels of viable organisms left in water after treatment.

Guidelines associated with the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 include:

  • Ballast Water Exchange
  • Recording and Reporting Ballast Management Ballast Water Treatment
  • Minimising uptake of organisms, removing of sediment and avoiding unnecessary discharge
  • Ship Ballast Water Management Plans

At present, the guidelines are not legally required, but shipping agents and ship owners are strongly urged to ensure that vessels discharging ballast in United Kingdom waters comply with them to reduce the spread of disease and non-indigenous nuisance species that may be in the water.

Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-363-the-control-and-management-of-ships-ballast-water

Gaps in Management (Scotland)

Ballast water guidelines are only voluntary at present