Garbage Pollution Prevention on DCVs

The Marine Pollution Act 2012 No.5 (MPA) provides the requirements for vessels operating in NSW state waters to prevent garbage pollution in our waterways.

Owners and Masters of Domestic Commercial Vessels (DCV) must ensure that garbage is disposed of responsibly in shore-based reception facilities, and never overboard.

What is garbage?

Garbage includes:

  • all kinds of food
  • domestic and operational waste
  • all plastics
  • cargo residues
  • incinerator ashes
  • cooking oil
  • fishing gear
  • animal carcasses generated during the normal operation of the ship and liable to be disposed of continuously or periodically.

Garbage does not include fresh fish and parts thereof generated as a result of fishing activities undertaken during the voyage, or as a result of aquaculture activities.


Depending on the size and number of passengers, domestic commercial vessels may be required to carry:

  • Garbage Placard (or sticker)
  • Garbage Management Plan
  • Garbage Record Book

Garbage Placards

Section 110 of the MPA makes Garbage Placards or stickers mandatory for:

  • any vessels of 12 metres or more in length.

Placards (or stickers) advise the crew and passengers of the rules on the discharge of garbage into the sea, and should be displayed on the vessel where they are visible for both crew and passengers.

Applicable vessels must display at least one garbage placard/sticker.

Garbage Management Plan

Section 107 of the MPA makes Garbage Management Plans mandatory for:

  • vessels of gross tonnage 100 and above
  • vessels certified to carry 15 or more people.

Garbage Management Plans should include written procedures for:

  • minimising
  • collecting
  • storing
  • processing
  • disposing of garbage (including any relevant onboard equipment).

The plan should identify the person in charge of carrying out the plan. The plan should be written in English and the working language of the Master.

A sample Garbage Management Plan suitable for a small passenger vessel which can carry 15 people or more with two crew members can be found in the sample Garbage Management Plan (DOCX, 55.64 KB). Owners can modify the plan to suit their vessel.

Garbage Record Books

Sections 135 and 136 of the MPA make Garbage record books required for:

  • vessels of gross tonnage 400 and above
  • vessels certified to carry 15 or more people.

The master and owner of a vessel certified to carry 15 or more are exempt if they have a waiver where a voyage is an hour or less in duration. An application by the owner or Master can be made to TfNSW Maritime by emailing

Reporting pollution

Why should pollution should be reported?

Pollution in the form of litter, oil, sewage, greywater, bilge water, hull scrapings or chemicals, can adversely affect the health and amenity of our waterways, and the people using them.

Please report any pollution immediately to allow authorities to respond quickly and minimise any damage to the environment.

Prompt reporting increases the chances of successful action against those responsible for the pollution.

Who should pollution be reported to?

If the pollution appears to be coming from a vessel on the water, it should be reported to:

Please record as many details as possible to help us with our investigation, including:

  • the vessel name
  • vessel registration number
  • the time and place of the incident
  • the type of pollution you see.

If the pollution appears to be coming from:

  • a marina or land-based facilities
  • from a vessel ‘on the slip’
  • a hardstand.

Please contact the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) via:

Some larger maritime facilities require an Environmental Protection Licence from the EPA. You can check their public register of licenced premises at

If the facilities are listed on the EPA public register, you can report the incident to the EPA Environment line on 13 15 55, providing as many relevant details as possible. This line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If the facilities are not listed on the EPA public register, the incident should be reported to the relevant local Council as the responsible agency.