The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has introduced the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment (Polar Code) Bill 2017 into the House of Representatives. The Bill will introduce into Australian law a number of amendments to Annexes I, II, IV and V of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL).
These amendments, and other amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (SOLAS), will establish the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (known as the Polar Code), which has been developed by the International Maritime Organization.
According to the International Maritime Organization’s website, the Polar Code is:
“intended to cover the full range of shipping-related matters relevant to navigation in waters surrounding the two poles – ship design, construction and equipment; operational and training concerns; search and rescue; and, equally important, the protection of the unique environment and eco-systems of the polar regions.
The Polar Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles.
The Polar Code includes mandatory measures covering safety part (part I-A) and pollution prevention (part II-A) and recommendatory provisions for both (parts I-B and II-B).”
Introducing the Bill into Parliament, Mr Chester, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, said:
“Australia has a strong national interest in Antarctica, including in the safety of shipping and the environmental protection of Antarctic waters. Australia has responsibilities in a very significant portion of the Southern Ocean, including search-and-rescue coordination, environmental protection, hydrography and nautical charting, and safety of vessels operating in the area.
Australia has been actively engaged in the development of the Polar Code, in order to influence and improve safety and pollution prevention outcomes in respect of Antarctic waters. Australia's Southern Ocean maritime interests are best advanced through internationally agreed arrangements that are consistent with Antarctica's unique legal and political status.
Australia's implementation of these amendments is consistent with our longstanding support for the protection of life and safety at sea and the marine environment, and with our active backing of, and participation in development of the Polar Code.”
The Bill will amend the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983. The Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum says:
“This Bill will … ensure that there are strict discharge restrictions for oil, noxious liquid substances, sewage, and garbage for certain ships operating in polar waters. These environmental amendments will assist in protecting the polar environments from pollution from unwarranted discharges.”
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Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment (Polar Code) Bill 2017, Explanatory Memorandum and Second Reading Speech - available from TimeBase's LawOne service
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