The MARPOL Convention is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. It is a combination of two treaties adopted in 1973 and 1978 respectively, and updated by amendments through the years.
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) was adopted on 2 November 1973 at IMO and covered pollution by oil, chemicals, and harmful substances in packaged form, sewage and garbage. The Protocol of 1978 relating to the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (1978 MARPOL Protocol) was adopted at the Conference on Tanker Safety and Pollution Prevention in
February 1978 held in response to a spate of tanker accidents in 1976 -1977.
The combined instrument is referred to as the International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78), and it entered into force on 2 October 1983 (Annexes I and II).
The Convention includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimising pollution from ships – both accidental pollution and that from routine operations – and currently includes six stand-alone Annexes dealing with pollution by different substances.