Shipping and the Environment: A Code of Practice

Number of Pages:
Published Date:
June 2020
Book Height:
310 mm
Book Width:
210 mm
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This publication summarises the environmental obligations of shipping companies as required by international regulations. It includes a set of clear environmental standards by which shipping companies should operate.

The purpose of this Code of Practice is to:

a) provide a framework for the development and continuing review of environmental management standards and practices to be incorporated into the corporate culture and management procedures of shipping companies; and

b) identify specific subjects of environmental concern upon which companies should focus.

It also contains general information about the overall environmental performance of the international shipping industry and addresses potential sources of pollution from ships including oil, chemicals, garbage, ballast water and anti-fouling paints, as well as potential sources of atmospheric pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Shipping is the safest and most environmentally friendly form of commercial transport. Nevertheless, many of the cargoes transported by sea, such as oil and chemicals, are potentially damaging to the environment, which (in addition to the protection of life at sea) is why maritime safety is always paramount.

It has been recognised that the human factor plays a large part in incidents of marine pollution and other forms of environmental damage. Personnel, both ashore and at sea, should be provided with clear directions, guidance and standards in order to limit to the greatest extent possible any adverse impact to the environment caused by human activity.

The cornerstone of good management is commitment from the top. It is therefore essential that senior management provides directions, guidance and standards that are:

  • consistent with international and national law and with relevant industry codes of practice;
  • realistic, practical and easy to follow;
  • understood by all personnel; and
  • evaluated, reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

Practices and standards designed to limit the impact of company operations on the environment should not be implemented in isolation but should be closely linked with other operating standards, including standards of safe navigation and safety of life.

It is equally important that ships are properly equipped to allow and encourage environmental protection. From the moment it is decided to construct a ship, efforts should be made to ensure that its design and equipment are, so far as reasonable, in keeping with the latest technology, having regard to the protection of the environment.

No discharge to the sea should be permitted from a ship unless consistent with legislation and with good practice.

The International Chamber of Shipping and its member national shipowners’ associations are committed to a zero tolerance approach to any non-compliance with the IMO MARPOL Convention.

Part 1: The environmental performance of international shipping

Part 2: Principles of environmental management

Part 3: Measures to tackle sources of pollution

Part 4: Environmental standards


Annex 1: Key IMO conventions and codes for protection of the marine environment

Annex 2: Recommended industry publications

Annex 3: Shipping industry guidance on environmental compliance

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the principal international trade association for the shipping industry, representing shipowners and operators in all sectors and trades.

ICS membership comprises national shipowners’ associations in Asia, Europe and the Americas whose member shipping companies operate over 80% of the world’s merchant tonnage.

Established in 1921, ICS is concerned with all technical, legal, employment affairs and policy issues that may affect international shipping.

ICS represents shipowners with the various intergovernmental regulatory bodies that impact on shipping, including the International Maritime Organization.

ICS also develops best practices and guidance, including a wide range of publications and free resources that are used by ship operators globally.

Number of Pages:
Published Date:
June 2020
Book Height:
310 mm
Book Width:
210 mm

International Chamber of Shipping