Guidelines for the application of a Voluntary Environmental Compliance Program (VECP)

Type/Frequency: Single Issue

Current Release: December 2011

Number of pages: 25


In the last decade shipping companies have seen the need and benefit of introducing Environmental Management Systems (EMS) to improve their environmental performance, either within the present Safety (and Environmental) Management System (SMS) according to the ISM Code or based on the ISO 14001 standard.

While the ISM Code deals with the environmental reporting and management of ship operations activities, the international ISO 14001 standard applies to those environmental aspects that the organization identifies as those which it can control and those which it can influence (it does not itself state specific environmental performance criteria).

The VECP provides operational guidelines intended to promote uniformity of environmental violation management across shipowning organizations.
The design and implementation of voluntary environmental compliance plans and frameworks will need to take into account the varying needs of a specific organization, its particular objectives, context, structure, operations, processes, functions, projects, products, services, or assets and specific practices employed.

VECP can be applied to any type and size of shipowner and shipmanager organization.

VECP specifies requirements for an environmental management system to enable a shipping company to prevent, detect and correct environmental violations under applicable international flag state, port state and coastal state law, and the United State laws including, but not limited to, the international Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), and all U.S. Federal and State statutes and regulations including, but not limited to the Ports and Water Safety Act (PWSA), the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Oil Pollution Act (OPA 90) and the EU Directive 2009/123/EC.

VECP is designed to help organizations:

  • Increase the likelihood of achieving environmental objectives
  • Encourage proactive management
  • Be aware of the need to identify and treat environmental violation throughout the Improve the identification of opportunities and
  • Comply with relevant legal and regulatory requirements and international norms
  • Improve governance
  • Improve stakeholder confidence and trust
  • Establish a reliable basis for decision making and planning
  • Improve controls
  • Improve operational effectiveness and efficiency
  • Enhance environmental protection
  • Improve loss prevention and incident management
  • Minimize fines
  • Improve organizational learning
  • Improve organizational resilience.

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The VECP is available as a PDF file.

Preventing violations from ships