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Regional workshop on MARPOL Special Area Status

of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden

The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (RSGA) have been designated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as Special Areas under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ship 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto, known as MARPOL 73/78. The purpose of a Special Area is the prevention of pollution of the sea in these areas because of their particular sensitivity or other factors.  According to MARPOL 73/78 Annex I, Regulation 10(4)b, the discharge of any oil or oily mixture, or chemicals into the sea in a Special Area is prohibited; oil and oily mixture must be retained on board or discharged into reception facilities in ports.

The Red Sea was adopted by IMO as Special Area under Annexes I & V in 1973, entered into force in 1983 for Annex I and 1988 for Annex V; while the Gulf of Aden was adopted as Special Area under Annex I in 1987, entered into force in 1989. However, the designations of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden as Special Areas under MARPOL are not yet effective.  This is because the States in the region have not yet been able to advise IMO that they have established adequate reception facilities for ships calling at their ports as required by MARPOL 73/78 for ports within Special Area. Also, some States bordering the RSGA have not yet become parties to MARPOL 73/78.

In view of the importance to the Region that the remaining States becoming parties to MARPOL 73/78, PERSGA has been helping to support this process. In 2005 PERSGA conducted a fact finding mission and technical workshop on the MARPOL 73/78 requirements in the region.

In this framework, and in the context of its efforts to implement this plan, PERSGA, in collaboration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) organized a regional workshop on “MARPOL Special Area Status of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden”. The workshop was held during the period 19 to 21 October 2009 held at PERSGA/EMARSGA in Hurghada, Egypt and was attended by 15 participants from four PERSGA member countries.

The main objective of the workshop was to have an open debate and to discuss the difficulties facing the activation of the Red Sea under MARPOL Annexes I & V, and Gulf of Aden under Annex I as Special Areas and to identify feasible solutions to facilitate the activation.

The specific objectives of the workshop were to:

  •     Provide an update on the status of the MARPOL Convention and other IMO environmental conventions (AFS, BaWa and SR);
  • Update information on existing reception facilities and ship traffic in the region through National Reports;
  • Identify the need of additional reception facilities at a regional level;
  • Identify the most feasible manner to have the additionally needed reception facilities available;
  • Identify other difficulties that countries might be facing that have not become party to the MARPOL73/78 convention and/or the optional Annex V yet; and
  • Identify the best approach to submit to IMO the application with the request to establish a date as from which the requirements, that apply to ships when in the Special Area, will become effective so as to ensure a much greater protection for the marine environment in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
The workshop was lead by a team consisting of Dr. Mohammad Badran from PERSGA and Ms. Marja C. Tiemens-Idzinga  as an independent consultant recommended by IMO.
The workshop was successful inasmuch as the participants were highly satisfied with the arrangements and efforts made by PERSGA, PERSGA/EMARSGA and the independent consultant. There was consensus that further follow up was necessary and that there was an urgent need to meet the obligations to ensure the proper provision of adequate facilities and arrange for effective receipt of ships’ wastes in their ports.  The participants felt responsible for the follow up on the workshop recommendations and in particular on the identified priority items resulting from the in depth debates.







Emergency Mutual Aid Center in the Red sea and Gulf of Aden