Arctic Port Reception Facilities Inventory

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Special Areas under MARPOL

Under the MARPOL Convention, special areas are provided with a higher level of protection than other areas of the sea.

MARPOL defines certain sea areas as "special areas" in which, for technical reasons relating to their oceanographical and ecological condition and to their sea traffic, the adoption of special mandatory methods for the prevention of sea pollution is required.


iStock 1153346257Adequate port waste reception facilities are one of the necessary preconditions for bringing into effect “Special Areas” adopted by member governments of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 73/78 (MARPOL).

A higher level of protection is afforded “Special Areas” than other areas of the sea by requiring ships when sailing in these areas to comply with more stringent discharge requirements. “Special Area” designation is available under five of MARPOL’s six annexes.

These are:

  • Annex I (prevention of pollution by oil)
  • Annex II (control of pollution by noxious liquid substances-only in effect in the Antarctic Special Area with no reception facility reporting requirement)
  • Annex IV (prevention of pollution by sewage-no Special Areas are in Effect at this time)
  • Annex V (prevention of pollution by garbage), and
  • Annex VI (prevention of air pollution by ships – “Special Areas” are called Emission Control Areas – ECAs).

Although PAME member governments are awaiting finalization of the AMSA Recommendation II(C) report on areas of heightened ecological and cultural significance before more actively exploring the need for internationally designated areas through the current II(D) project, the United States believes PAME member governments should take a fresh look at the availability and adequacy of port waste reception facilities in their respective countries as an important component of any potential future work regarding MARPOL “Special” Areas in the Arctic region. The starting point for any such assessment is the PAME Port Reception Facility project.

Project objective:

Develop a current inventory of Arctic port reception facilities to assess where there may be infrastructure gaps in light of increasing Arctic shipping traffic.

The project will update the 2012 paper titled “Specially Designated Arctic Marine Areas and Port Reception Facilities”, which summarizes the capabilities and capacities of port reception facilities in the Arctic. The update includes a review of the existing waste infrastructure within each Arctic country and the development of a mapping data layer for incorporation into PAME’s ASTD System. Explore collaboration with the Marine Litter expert group on information relevant for marine litter.


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