Garbage from vessels

Garbage can be fatal for marine animals and hazardous for recreational boaters and the fishing industry. Rope and plastic material may get caught in propeller shafts or block water intakes causing major damage, expensive repairs and loss of income while vessels are repaired.

Marine Pollution Act 2012

The Marine Pollution Act makes it illegal to discharge garbage into state waters. Garbage from vessels should be stored on board and disposed of responsibly once you’re back on shore.

The Marine Pollution Act enacts the rules from the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention) which do permit large vessels with specialised grinding/shredding equipment to discharge certain types of garbage when they’re beyond a specific distance from land.

Nevertheless, all boat operators should be aware of two basic MARPOL principles:

  • No plastics thrown into the sea
  • No garbage discharged within 12 nautical miles from the nearest land.

Garbage disposal placards or sticker

If your vessel is 12 metres or more in length, you’re required to display a garbage disposal sticker on your vessel where it’s visible to crew and passengers.

Stickers for recreational vessels (see image below) can be picked up from any Service NSW office. For commercial vessels see the Marine pollution from boats page.

Discharge of garbage into waters is prohibited sticker

Example of a garbage sticker

Garbage management plans

Vessels capable of carrying 15 persons or more, or more than 400 gross tons must develop and carry a garbage management plan and be fitted with the necessary equipment outlined in the plan.

A sample garbage management plan can be downloaded and adapted for your vessel.

Garbage Record Books

If your vessel is over 400 tons, you’ll need to enter details of every garbage incineration or disposal in a Garbage Record Book.

The record book, and any receipt for using a waste reception facility in port, must be kept for two years and be available for inspection by authorities.

For guidance and more information, see the AMSA website.

International voyages

If you intend to take your vessel on an international voyage, additional requirements relating to MARPOL Annex V will apply. For details about these requirements, see the AMSA website.

Share this page: