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Port Reception Facilities

Date: 19/07/2018

COM (2018) 33 – Proposal for a Directive on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships, repealing Directive 2000/59/EC and amending Directive 2009/16/EC and Directive 2010/65/EU


The main aim of the Port Reception Facilities (PRF) Directive is to prevent illegal discharges of ship-generated waste and cargo residues into the sea by encouraging vessels to discharge all waste to shore-side reception facilities. However, various issues have emerged with regard to the functioning of the old Directive, i.e. inadequate reception and handling of ship-generated waste and cargo residues by port reception, inadequate delivery by ships of their waste and cargo residues, lack of a level playing field between ports and between port users, as well as unnecessary administrative burden on port users.

According to the Commission, the new legislative Proposal aims to ensure the availability of adequate facilities; to provide effective (cost) incentives to deliver waste at port reception facilities; to remove barriers to effective and efficient enforcement;  to harmonise and update definitions and forms: and to clarify the rules for exemptions.

Government’s Position

The Maltese Government generally welcomes the provisions aiming to align the existing PRF Directive with the MARPOL requirements in order to further reduce illegal discharges of ship-generated wastes and cargo residues at sea. However, the proposal creates some concerns as indicated in more detail below, especially because it seems that rather than addressing the issues through amendments and building on what is already in place, it introduces new concepts with the associated issues and burdens. It is noticed that a new fee structure has been introduced. The incentives as foreseen in the current Directive, whereby ships are paying a fixed minimum fee when calling at port, have without doubt been effective in reducing the waste gap and contributed to the delivery of increased quantities of waste on shore. Continuing on this path seems a reasonable choice. Setting a price for an average quantity could be workable. However, allowing ships to deliver unlimited and unreasonable quantities of garbage, including dangerous waste and cargo residues, for a fixed fee would neither be responsible nor efficient.  It would be tantamount to a severe and unacceptable divergence from the “polluter pays principle”. Such proposal risks discouraging tackling waste at source by reducing the volumes generated on-board. Equally, the Government of Malta believes it is up to the port to decide if and when a rebate on the fee can be given to a ship. One should not forget that receiving and managing waste comes at a cost. It is the port authority that will have to pay the difference between the fee and the real costs of receiving and handling the waste amounts actually received.

Although, the idea of harmonising the fees across the EU is also viewed positively, a clarification is however required into the new fee structure and its workings.  It is assumed that such fees would increase the costs of operations of vessels. One should keep in mind that the idea of having a fee was to give an incentive to the vessels to discharge waste in the proper manner.  Therefore, the new system may result as counterproductive and rather than providing an incentive in discharging waste it leads to the increase in illegal discharges. Furthermore, it is noticed that the proposal amends Directive 2010/65/EU on reporting formalities. It is a known fact that the Directive did not reach its objectives. Difficulties were encountered in the implementation thereof with respect to reducing the administrative burden on the national authorities and shipping – mainly because of the single window system and the interoperability of such with SafeSeaNet and the Customs systems; and in having different formats of reporting formalities in the different ports across the EU. In a nutshell, this Directive can be considered as a regulatory failure. 

Member States have already been informed that there will be a total overhaul of Directive 2010/65/EU. In this respect, therefore, one questions whether one should wait for the new Proposal to be issued rather than amending the current Directive with new obligations/reporting formalities that may never be implemented due to the difficulties encountered. Another issue may be in relation to the EU Legislation dealing with the disposal of waste by port reception facilities which is being referred to in the proposal.  In this respect, one should be careful in the interaction of such legislation and the application of such on shipping.  It must be clearly stated that the responsibility to abide with this legislation rests solely on the port reception facility and not on the vessel.  There is concern that port reception facilities and/or national environmental authorities may impose certain responsibilities on the vessels, treating them like land establishments, and thereby causing undue delay on vessels.   One final issue that has been encountered in the Proposal is in relation to the introduction of an exemption not to deliver waste for vessels calling an anchorage for less than 24 hours. Apart from questioning why such has been limited only to anchorage areas as ports have not been included, this must be appropriately defined, albeit it could be not that easy. The reason being that a vessel may call a port/anchorage area for less than 24 hours to receive a service or seek shelter therein in adverse weather conditions and may end up in the anchorage area for a longer time for reasons beyond their control, for example delay in operations or continued adverse weather conditions. This will therefore result in the exemption not being applicable. Therefore, there should be clarity especially in respect of the fee to be charged, whether for the whole period on anchorage or else only in respect to that period exceeding the 24 hours. Additionally, one should also consider not limiting such to anchorage areas only.


A new inspection regime is also being introduced for ships falling under the Port State Control regime and other vessels.  The concern in relation to such introduction is with respect to increased administrative burden, especially in respect of those vessels falling outside the Port State Control regime.


The Merchant Shipping Directorate has concerns regarding the proposed amendments to the Port State Control Directive 2009/16. The current port State control regime is based on the framework of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (PSC), and in principle we do not support that each time new EU legislation is adopted, the existing framework is changed substantially. Furthermore, the proposed amendments to the PSC Directive impose additional burdens on port State control, and introduce specialised procedures for monitoring compliance with EU port reception facilities legislation. This needs to be taken in the context that PSC inspections are intended to monitor general compliance with the entire body of EU and international maritime legislation including safety legislation. To this effect, the proposed amendments to the Port State Control Directive 2009/16 are not supported. Finally and further to the above comments, the Proposal may result in an increased administrative burden on the Port Authorities as well as the shipping industry unless carefully handled and defined, for example in relation to the reporting notification for vessels under 100gt.

Possible Implications

The Directive’s aim is to reduce wastes and cargo residues in the marine environment, and therefore there is a positive environmental impact. In respect of investments in ports. Considering that the majority of the reception facilities are provided by the (private) industry and are mobile (waste carriers), no infrastructure upgrades are being foreseen. However, there might be some issues that will affect such waste carriers and hence, these may need to invest accordingly. A case in point is the requirement for separate collection in Article 4 of the Proposal. Additionally, such waste carriers may need to have their licence/authorisations updated accordingly by the competent authority. Another issue that could be encountered is in relation to vessels calling Maltese waters only to receive bunkers or a service. The proposal is being interpreted that such vessels will need to submit the relative notification in terms of the Directive and be charged a fee accordingly, thereby an increasing administrative burden and costs. Finally, additional operational costs are envisaged for the operational implementation of the Directive, for example in respect of the new inspection regime for vessels falling outside the Port State Control regime; and in the mandatory new notifications and the vetting of such accordingly. 


Source: MEUSAC


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