General marine pollution reporting

Reporting general marine pollution helps us to respond quickly to an incident to minimise damage to the environment.

If you witness a vessel or seafarer polluting, or see pollution in the marine environment that you think might be from a vessel, you can make a general marine pollution report by one of the following actions:

You can also report incidents to the local port or maritime authority.

When reporting a marine pollution incident to us, or to the local port or maritime authority, please provide details about the incident, including:

  • when and where the incident occurred
  • the name of the vessel
  • type and extent of pollution
  • other witnesses or nearby vessels
  • any other information you think may be important.

If possible, take photographs or video images of the pollution, vessel or persons involved.

What to report as general marine pollution

The following general marine pollution incidents should be reported:

  • Spills or leaks of any quantity of oil. If oil can be seen on the water then it is probably an illegal discharge. Oil includes waste oil, fuel oil, sludge, lube oil, and other additives.
  • Any discharge from a vessel involving packaged goods or washings of chemical or dry cargoes.
  • Any garbage disposed of into the sea. This includes any plastics, paper, bottles, metal, incinerator ask, fishing gear, and other general waste.
  • Visible floating solids or water discolouration from sewage effluent discharged from vessels.

Importance of reporting marine pollution

Reporting marine pollution incidents helps us protect the marine environment.

It is generally illegal for vessels to discharge pollutants into the sea, with the exception of certain waste types, in very limited quantities and under very strict rules.

All marine pollution incidents and sightings should be reported to authorities as soon as possible. Early reporting of marine pollution helps response and enforcement agencies minimise environmental effects and improves investigation and prosecution success. It also helps target education and compliance efforts.

Related information

Last updated: 13 August 2020