THE INTERNATIONAL Maritime Organization has announced its World Maritime Theme for 2023, and it spotlights the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

The theme, “MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on” promotes discussions around the next phase of work to protect the world’s oceans from the impacts of shipping.

The theme will underpin the IMO’s work throughout 2023 but will culminate on World Maritime Day on 28 September next year.

MARPOL was adopted on 2 November 1973 following the Torrey Canyon oil spill off the coast of the United Kingdom in 1967. It was the largest oil disaster at the time and led to the development of the convention.

MARPOL has evolved over the years, but today, addresses oil pollution, noxious liquid substances in bulk and harmful substances in packaged form.


It also covers sewage from ships, garbage from ships, air pollution from ships, and regulation of energy efficiency.

IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim said a lot has happened in shipping since MARPOL was adopted 50 years ago, and the 2023 theme will allow the industry to celebrate a legacy of protecting and preserving the marine environment.

“Our work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is critical, and – given the urgency of the climate crisis – we must act now to strengthen our ambitions on this matter,” Mr Lim said.

“We must also tackle other issues including protecting biodiversity, biofouling, the transfer of invasive species, and plastic and noise pollution.

“Protecting the marine environment requires shared action and I look forward to what the next 50 years will bring.”

This year’s World Maritime Theme is “New technologies for greener shipping”, reflecting the need to support the maritime sector’s green transition. World Maritime Day 2022 will be celebrated on 29 September.