The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) has been spotting several STS operations conducted on its EEZ near the southern island Okinawa in the past month. None of them had made mandatory 48-hour advance notification in line with Marpol Annex I Chapter 8 and its relevant domestic regulations, and therefore was considered a legal activity.
The tankers involved, which include some well-known owners’, were just advised to stop STS and separate immediately, without the JCG moving to severer law enforcement actions.
However, they warn that even those ships that were not arrested on site are all recorded and will receive a thorough inspection when next calling a Japan port.
Tanker owners are advised to ensure their ships, and STS operators as well, are fully compliant with the Marpol requirements, including the 48-hour advance notification and an STS Plan carrying on board.
Further, in addition to the mandatory 48-hour advance notification, it may take weeks for prior consultation with the JCG especially about contingency plans, unless both of the location and the STS operator are not cleared in advance.