On October 9th, 2018, the Transport Committee of the European Parliament adopted the Meissner report on Port Reception Facilities and gave a mandate to start negotiations with the Council to convert recommendations into new legislation. 

However, outside of the strong resolution to end dumping waste at sea and confirming the ‘polluter pays’ principle, Euroshore regrets that the Transport Committee took no strong stance on the ‘100% indirect fee’ permitting ships to deliver an unlimited amount of Annex 5 waste to ports for a fixed fee.

The Transport Committee of the European Parliament has clearly voted in favour of a policy that incentivises ships to deliver waste generated on board to ports. It also encourages ships to limit waste at the source by preventing ships to deliver unreasonable amounts of waste without paying for it. This adopted report strikes the right balance between efficiency and responsibility and strengthens the ‘polluter pays’ principle, according to the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO).

The revised ‘Directive on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships’, proposed by the Commission and released concurrently with the European Strategy on Plastics in a Circular Economy last January to tackle sea-based sources of marine plastic pollution, sets out to prevent the illegal dumping of garbage and fishing gear at sea.

The flagship measure is referred to as the ‘100 % indirect fee for Annex 5’, which restructures port fees allowing ships to deliver all waste to ports for a fixed fee, regardless of quantities. This would remove incentives to illegally dump garbage at sea in order to reduce costs. Good reasoning and makes perfect sense, one may say.

However, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted on this, proposing some amendments strengthening the fee system and others weakening it. Moreover, they should have taken a much stronger stance on the ‘100% indirect fee’. Euroshore regrets this missed opportunity. 

Euroshore was also hoping that Europe would go beyond MARPOL. Following international rules may be easy for shipping but creates unfair competition between transport modes as inland navigation road and rail have to follow stricter European rules.

To quote The Marine Framework Directive, especially article 1.2. we need “to prevent and reduce inputs in the marine environment, with a view to phasing out pollution as defined in Article 3(8), so as to ensure that there are no significant impacts on or risks to marine biodiversity, marine ecosystems, human health or legitimate uses of the sea”. 

Scrubber residues are a new and extra pollution to the sea.

MARPOL allows dumping of all kinds of wash waters from chemicals or dry cargoes, even residues from scrubbers, into the sea, which contributes to the acidification of (coastal) seas. Scrubber effluents also contain heavy metals, organic pollutants (PAHs) and substances that are banned under the Water Framework Directive. 

The Commission proposal also allows fishermen to deliver waste caught in their nets during fishing operations, referred to as ‘passively fished waste’, to ports at no additional cost to discourage them from throwing overboard.

The Transport Committee of the European Parliament (TRAN) agreed to significantly strengthen the Commission proposal in many ways, including:

  • prohibit dumping of plastic at sea: TRAN proposes to prohibit dumping of plastics at sea under EU law (subject to certain exceptions, such as to ensure crew safety);
  • fishing-for-litter initiatives and beach clean-ups: TRAN would require member states to establish a national fund to support the delivery of passively fished waste to ports, referred to as fishing-for-litter initiatives, and collect waste on coastlines and along shipping lanes;
  • accidental losses of fishing gear: TRAN would require fishermen to take all reasonable precautions to prevent accidental losses of fishing gear, being a major contributor to marine plastic pollution that also kills wildlife through ‘ghost fishing’;
  • extended producer responsibility for fishing gear: TRAN would require member states to establish extended producer responsibility schemes for fishing gear, including modulated fees that promote circular design and deposit-refund schemes;
  • inspections and enforcement: TRAN would strengthen inspections and enforcement on smaller vessels, including many fishing vessels and recreational craft; and finally, 
  • paraffin pollution: TRAN sets out a series of measures to combat paraffin pollution, noxious remnants of cargo residues that have been washing up on EU coastlines in the North Sea.

Although some critical remarks can be made, Euroshore hopes that these amendments of the European Parliament will be accepted and will further strengthen the proposal in negotiations and in its finalised legal text. We hope that this will be a step further in helping to achieve cleaner seas.


Guido Van Meel
secretary general 

Euroshore International vzw
Buro&Design Center
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B-1020 Brussels