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Safe use of pesticides on board cargo ships

Where pesticides are used in the cargo spaces of ships or cargo units, safety procedures should be in accordance with the IMO publication `Recommendations on the Safe Use of Pesticides' (1996). A copy of this publication should be retained on board and kept accessible for all crew members.

Where space and surface spraying operations are being carried out by the crew, the master should ensure that the appropriate protective clothing, gloves, respirators and eye protection are being worn.

Ship's personnel should not handle fumigants and such operations should be carried out only by qualified operators. Fumigation should only be carried out with the agreement of the ship's master.

The master should choose to allow an in-transit fumigation only after first referring to the requirements of the ship's own national administration, and seeking the approval of the administration of the state of the vessel's next destination or port of call. The master should provide safe working conditions and ensure that at least two members of his crew including one officer have received the appropriate training. They should be familiar with the recommendations of the fumigant manufacturer concerning the methods of detection of the fumigant in air, its behaviour and hazardous properties, symptoms of poisoning, relevant first-aid treatment and special medical treatment and emergency procedures.

The `Fumigation Warning' sign should be conspicuously displayed on cargo units or spaces under fumigation. A watchman should be posted to prevent access to areas of risk by unauthorised personnel.

In recent years the authorities have become increasingly concerned at the dangers associated with the use of pesticides aboard ships. There is a possibility that edible cargoes will be contaminated by the use of pesticides and that crew members will be harmed by contact with them. Before describing routine procedures a warning must be given.

On at least one occasion ships' personnel and stevedores required treatment when they breathed fumigant laden dust from a grain cargo while it was being loaded! The ship, in a western Canadian port, had received no warning that the cargo had been fumigated before loading. The Master should enquire whether the intended cargo is under fumigation or has been fumigated and should arrange the supply of suitable approved protective masks if necessary. Full recommendations for the use of pesticides aboard ship have been published by the IMO28.

A ship may be infested by insects or by rats. Infestation by insects may exist aboard ship or may be brought aboard with the cargo. The purpose of its removal may be to satisfy the agricultural authorities in the discharge port or to ensure that the cargo remains acceptable to the receiver. Infestation can cause cargo to overheat. Prevention of infestation: Cargo spaces and other parts of the ship should be kept in a good state of repair, clean and free of rubbish. Any infested material collected during cleaning should be disposed of or treated immediately so that infestation cannot spread.
(Source: UK |P&I |Club)

Cleaning and fumigation requirement

Compartments and containers from which cargo has been discharged must, with some exceptions (e.g. the loading of another bulk cargo of the same specification, such as coal), be cleaned to a standard suitable for the next cargo to be loaded with any dirt and rubbish disposed of in an appropriate manner .

Should evidence of infestation be found, it may be necessary to fumigate the compartment, hold or ship. Major fumigation will normally be carried out by a specialist contractor to ensure that the necessary safety precautions are observed. However, some fumigants (usually of the type that emit smoke) may be safely used by ship's staff to fumigate a locker or 'tween deck. When using a smoke fumigant, the smoke detector for the space being fumigated should be isolated to ensure that alarms are not activated.

Changes to MARPOL Annex V now make the disposal of nearly all garbage into the sea illegal. The only discharges permitted, in certain circumstances, are food waste, animal carcasses, cargo residues and cleaning agents or additives used for hold, deck or external surface cleaning. Cargo residues, and cleaning agents or additives may only be discharged if they are not harmful to the marine environment.

While the new Annex V came into force on 1 January 2013, in light of many reports of ships being unable to dispose of solid bulk cargo residues Harmful to the Marine Environment (HME) due to a lack of suitable port facilities, IMO agreed that certain residues may be disposed of at sea outside special areas until 31 December 2015. Further details may be found in MEPC.1/ Circ.810­Implementation of MARPOL Annex V. It should be noted that cargo residues are considered as garbage under MARPOL and must be treated in the same way as other waste for disposal with appropriate records being kept.


Most countries have very strict quarantine regulations to prevent the importation of unwanted vermin and insects, etc. Such regulations usually prohibit the importation of timber with any bark still attached (as may be the case with dunnage) and timber entering the country has to have been specially treated.

There is increasing state control prohibiting the discharge of ballast water within port and territorial waters. Ballast water contains a variety of marine, plant and animal organisms that may survive an ocean passage in a ship's tanks to become established in and have an effect on the environment into which they are subsequently discharged.

Legislation has been developed by IMO (the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments) to control discharges of ballast water and thus reduce the risk of introducing non-native species. To this end, since 2009 new ships must be equipped with a ballast treatment system meeting the requirements of the Convention.

Ships built before 2009 have been permitted to operate a ballast exchange system until 2014 or 2016 (depending on the ballast capacity of the particular ship) after which a ballast water treatment system is mandatory. Such systems separate and eradicate plankton and bacteria present in ballast water bringing it within the limits described in the Convention. There is no doubt that the implementation of full compliance with the Convention may make the fitting of a ballast water treatment system, particularly in a smaller ship, uneconomic.

Ships operating a ballast water exchange system should be aware that some authorities will test ballast water and impose fines if contaminants are found to exceed very stringent limits. In some cases those contaminant limits are exceeded in the local waters and ballast should be exchanged well before arrival in port, while complying, of course, with the ship's ballast water management plan.

It should be noted that a ship is required to have a designated Ballast Water Management Officer who has to ensure that all ballast water operations are properly recorded in the Ballast Water Record Book, which must be available for inspection by an authorised officer. The Ballast Management Plan for a particular ship must be in the working language of the crew, simple, practical and easy to use by all engaged in ballast water management both on board and ashore.

Khapra Beetle interceptions
As of last September 2011, agriculture specialists within the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) made over 158 Khapra Beetle interceptions. The Beetle - Trogoderma granarium, is one of the world's most destructive stored-product pests. It is difficult to control once introduced into a region because it feeds on a variety of dried materials, is resistant to insecticides and can go long periods without food. Infestations can result in up to 70% grain damage, making products inedible and unmarketable. In 2005 and 2006, Khapra Beetle interceptions at US ports of entry were three to six per year but numbers began to increase in 2007.


The MS (Carriage of Cargoes) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/336) [ regulation 8 ] specifies Where pesticides are used in cargo spaces, they must be used in accordance with MSN 1718, which provides that:

• where pesticides are used in the cargo spaces of ships prior to, during or following a voyage, the IMO publication Recommendations on the Safe Use of Pesticides in Ships, where relevant thereto, must be complied with;

• the use of pesticides includes the fumigation of cargo spaces and of cargo, in port, or in transit, and any part of the ship so affected as a consequence of their application or use, as referred to in the IMO Guidelines;

• fumigation which is to continue during a voyage must only be carried out with the agreement of the ship’s master;

• the master may choose to permit in-transit fumigation only after first referring to the requirements of the flag State Administration;

• the proposed in-transit fumigation process must be acceptable to the Administration of the next port of call or destination;

• whether approval of proposed in-transit fumigation has been received from the flag State and port State Administrations or not, prior to the arrival of the vessel and in general not less than 24 hours in advance, the master must inform the port authorities of the port of destination and of ports of call that a fumigation in transit is being carried out.

Related info:

Recommended guideline for handling rats mice & vermins

Consequences of cargo damage and handling claims

Consequences of cargo damage and handling claims

Recommended good housekeeping procedure on board

Cargo liquefaction countermeasures

How to use safety Signs and notices on board

Summarized below some more details on general cargo ship cargo handling procedure and operational info:
  1. Cargo handling procedure for general cargo ship

  2. Suitable safety nets or temporary fencing should be rigged where personnel have to walk or climb across built-up cargo, and are therefore at risk of falling .
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  3. Various cargo handling techniques

  4. (a) Technological advances in ship design and lifting equipment (b) Rapid development and increase in the tonnages of bulk cargo (c) The impact of unitisation, and (d) The new and modern techniques of refrigeration, particularly with container carriage.
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  5. Cargo information rules

  6. The MS (Carriage of Cargoes) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/336) [Regulation 4(1)] specifies that the shipper must provide such information to the operator or master sufficiently in advance of loading to enable them to ensure that: • the different commodities to be carried are compatible with each other or suitably separated;.
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  7. Cargo packaging - general cargo ships procedure

  8. To achieve compatibility between cargo owners and the owners of the means of transport requires knowledge of the cargo-handling procedures in transport. These procedures are described with reference to major characteristics of commodities and cargoes. .
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  9. Cargo stowage plan

  10. The copies are forwarded to agents at ports of discharge to allow the booking and reservation of labour, as appropriate. Relevant details of cargoes, i.e. total quantity, description of package, bales, pallets etc., tonnage, port of discharge, identification marks and special features if and when separated .
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  11. Shipment procedure for cargoes in different forms

  12. General cargo is a term that covers a great variety of goods. In regard to modern cargo handling it refers to loose cargo that has not been consolidated for handling with mechanical means such as unitised or containerised cargo. It refers to individual items of any type of cargo, bagged or baled items, cases or crates, individual drums or barrels pieces of machinery or small items of steel construction. .
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  13. Information exchange on cargo stowage and planning

  14. Advance planning, exchange of information, and continuous ship to shore communication are all critical. All cargoes should be stowed and secured in a manner that will avoid exposing the ship and persons on board to unnecessary risk.
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  15. Lifting and carriage of deck cargo

  16. The safe securing of all deck cargoes should be checked by a competent person before the vessel proceeds on passage. The master is responsible for ensuring that it is correctly stowed and adequately secured for the intended voyage. Areas on the deck which are not to be used for cargo stowage should be clearly marked or otherwise indicated. .
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  17. Safe use of pesticides on board cargo ships

  18. Ship's personnel should not handle fumigants and such operations should be carried out only by qualified operators. Fumigation should only be carried out with the agreement of the ship's master..
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  19. Types of packaging & stowage methods for break bulk cargo

  20. The rigging time being negligible, and the crane is able to pick up and land permitted loads anywhere within its working radius. .
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  21. Various commodities carried by general cargo ships

  22. Cargoes should be stowed and secured in a manner that will avoid exposing the ship and persons on board to unnecessary risk. The safe stowage and securing of cargo depends upon proper planning, execution and supervision by properly qualified and experienced personnel. .
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  23. Methods of ventilation

  24. The holds of most dry cargo ships are ventilated by a mechanical supply and natural exhaust system .
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  25. Carriage of containers on cargo ships

  26. The process of loading and securing of goods into a container should follow the IMO/ILO/UN/ECE Guidelines for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTUs). Special care should be taken when lifting a container the centre of gravity of which is mobile, e.g. a tank container, bulk container or a container with contents which are hanging..
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  27. Working in cargo spaces safely

  28. Safety arrangements prior to working cargo should ensure that adequate and suitable lifting plant is available, in accordance with the register of lifting appliances and cargo gear, .
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  29. Cargo handling procedure for general cargo ship

  30. Suitable safety nets or temporary fencing should be rigged where personnel have to walk or climb across built-up cargo, and are therefore at risk of falling .
    More .....

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