A much greater proportion of the superyacht fleet will have to watch what it throws overboard with new revised MARPOL Annex V rules on the handling and storage of garbage now in force.
The marker on gross tonnage, revised downward by a significant 300 GT in the revised MARPOL Annex V rules, and active from 1 January this year, will mean at least 45 per cent of the fleet will be newly affected.
Under the new rules any yacht over 100 GT will be required to have garbage management plans in place or face a penalty from port state control (PSC). The previous legislation only applied to yachts over 400GT. Every vessel certified to carry 15 or more persons will also have to comply, which could encompass lightweight sailing yachts under 100 GT, if they carry 15 people including crew.
Captain Jorg Wendt, training crew members in the handling of rubbish (rules specify one member must be responsible for the matter), for Nautilus International, said that although throwing waste in water has always been unlawful, the revisions under Annex V give authorities the power to do something about it.
“Before it was an unofficial thing that people should not throw things over the side. Now it is required by regulations to put something up [a placard] or have a management plan, and to implement it.”
He said older versions made it “very difficult for port state to see if there were breaches of discharge regulations”. By contrast he says, PSC now has the right to fine offenders up to £25,000 in UK waters and a comparable amount in Europe if rules are not followed.
MARPOL V requires yachts over 100 GT to enforce garbage management plans to prevent scenes like this
He predicts the change will mostly be felt in the Mediterranean this summer season where there has been a somewhat laisser faire attitude to throwing food waste overboard, compared to more stringent areas such as Turkey.
“People – especially in the Med – are under impression that food waste is something people shouldn’t be concerned about. But the Med is a special area [in MARPOL V], subject to regulations.”
Already, the rules have prompted action with Tony Team, a company that specialises in compacting of waste down to 14 per cent of its original size, seeing an increase in enquiries.
“We’ve had loads of enquiries since MARPOL [changes were implemented]. Before it was a nice thing to have; now people haven’t got a choice,” said Tony Team’s managing director Victoria Oates.
Whilst most of the food, packaging and cleaning products that constitute garbage have remained the same in the new MARPOL V rules, there are one or two new appearances that could make a difference to more leisurely ways of enjoying life on board. Cooking oil and animal carcasses are new to the list of garbage items, along with operational wastes and cargo residues.
Disposal of animal carcases in special areas, which includes the Med, is forbidden under the new rules
“Anything contaminated with cooking oil will fall foul of regulations in the stricter category; in practical terms that can be annoying for your deep fried chicken,” said Jorg.
Jorg added that the regulations are part of a new wave of scrutinising yachts’ impact on the environment and their responsibilities to it.
“You can have the finest regulations in the world, but if there is no one around to enforce it, it is simply a paper tiger. But I think the impact of yachting on the environment is on the plan of the local authorities,” he concluded.