The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78, MARPOL is short for marine pollution and 73/78 short for the years 1973 and 1978) is one of the most important international marine environmental conventions.
It was developed by the International Maritime Organization in an effort to minimize pollution of the oceans and seas, including dumping, oil and air pollution.
The objective of this convention is to preserve the marine environment in an attempt to completely eliminate pollution by oil and other harmful substances and to minimize accidental spillage of such substances.
The original MARPOL was signed on 17 February 1973, but did not come into force at the signing date.
The current convention is a combination of 1973 Convention and the 1978 Protocol, which entered into force on 2 October 1983.
As of April 2016, 154 states are parties to the convention, being flag states of 98.7% of the world’s shipping tonnage.
All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its requirements, regardless of where they sail and member nations are responsible for vessels registered on their national ship registry.
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international maritime treaty which sets minimum safety standards in the construction, equipment and operation of merchant ships.
The convention requires signatory flag states to ensure that ships flagged by them comply with at least these standards.
The current version of SOLAS is the 1974 version, known as SOLAS 1974, which came into force on 25 May 1980.
As of March 2016, SOLAS 1974 had 162 contracting states, which flag about 99% of merchant ships around the world in terms of gross tonnage.
SOLAS in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships.