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Environmental Responsibilities and Luxury Yachts

From Dilara Dayioglugil, SODAC

November 16th, 2021

With the impact of the pandemic and the end of the COP26 Climate Summit, there has been an increase in environmental awareness and changing attitudes within the industry. Owners now expect responsible yachting with luxury, such as silent operations, and sustainability together. Instead of speed, they have started to prefer capability for longer periods at the sea and lower fuel consumption; and the industry is responding. In fact, much is happening in the yachting world that will lead us into a more sustainable future. Black Pearl is a great example of being an ecological sailing yacht on the oceans. Moreover, Turkish Shipyard Nedship and Dutch Company, Solarwave built the first of zero emission solar yacht design in 2015, "SOLARWAVE 62".








Almost every major yacht builder and charter company has committed to protecting the environment by establishing charitable foundations or cooperating with existing organizations. However, the industry as a whole, from shipyards to designers, must embrace change in order to find solutions. Every company that contributes to the operation of yachts can play a role by reflecting on the materials they use, using renewable energy where possible, considering their commitment to the circular economy, and reducing waste.

As lawyers, we also have a very powerful role in this. Future challenges and threats to marine biodiversity from emissions and pollution apply to all yachting companies, with the number environmental regulations and emission control areas (ECAs) increase and port requirements for limited emissions become more stringent. For example, In accordance with the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, yachts over 500 GT, like other ships, must have a Inventory of hazardous materials (IHM) and a ship recycling plan (SRP) on board.


Therefore, in this SODAC highlight, we gathered some information about UK regulations and international conventions governing yacht owners’ environmental responsibilities.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in UK enforces the regulations that must be adhered to in compliance with the relevant environment legislation, and the main one is Merchant Shipping Regulations. Some of the important regulations related to yachts under MSR are:

  • The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/3257)

  • The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Oil Pollution) Regulations 1996

  • The Merchant Shipping (Anti-Fouling Systems) Regulations 2009

Classifications: Classification certificates are issued by Classification Societies whose function is to set and maintain technical standards for the operation and construction of the ships they designate and they provide very detailed and technical standards covering the yacht's hull, engines and key safety systems.

Classification societies are organizations that set the rules that govern the construction, maintenance, and operation of yachts and vessels. The main class societies involved in yachting are:

  •  Lloyd’s Register (LR)

  • RINA – one of the founders of IACS (International Association of Classification Societies), 

  • American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)

The certificate is evidence that a yacht meets industry standards but isn’t necessarily a guarantee of seaworthiness.

Yachts also need to be compliant with various international conventions which are aimed at protecting the environment and due to these international conventions, there are mandatory certificates that yachts must obtain.

International Tonnage Certificate
-International Tonnage Certificate


MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships)
-MARPOL Annex I Certificate
-MARPOL Annex IV Certificate


SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) 
-Class Certificate
-Safety Radio Certificate
-Safety Construction and Safety Equipment
-International Safety Management Certificate
-International Ship and Port Security Certificate


IMO International Convention on Load Lines
-International Load Line Certificate


COLREGS (International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea)

The Red Ensign Group (REG) has developed a new regulatory framework for yachts, titled 'Red Ensign Group Yacht Code'. The code consolidates an updated version of the Large Yacht Code (LY3), and the latest version of the Passenger Yacht Code (PYC).

These regulations generally apply to vessels over 24 metres in length engaged in international voyages.

If you need any consultancy about Luxury Yachts,  feel free to reach out SODAC LAW 24/7.



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