Clean Marine Group

In 1973, in an effort to minimize pollution of the oceans and seas—including dumping, oil and air pollution—the International Maritime Organization (IMO) developed the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Modified in 1978 and referred to as MARPOL 73/78 (short for marine pollution), 156 states are now parties to the convention and make up 99.42% of the world’s shipping tonnage. All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its legally binding restrictions, regardless of where in the world they sail.

Marine waste from cruise ships, oil tankers, and ocean liners represents an enormous marine pollution challenge in the Caribbean. Clean Marine Group is attempting to solve this challenge by expanding their existing waste treatment facility in Freeport Harbour, Bahamas. Clean Marine Group’s technology, compliant with MARPOL regulations (short for the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships), will break down oil and water emulsions, plus process contaminated water from ocean liners and cruise ships. In turn, the technology will provide significant environmental and health benefits to people that reside in, or depend on, ocean-related activities for their well-being in the Bahamas, such as tourism and fisheries, as well as other Caribbean countries that are affected by improper disposal of marine waste and pollutants that are dumped into the ocean.

The Problem

Despite the MARPOL convention, enforcement to hold ships accountable and the presence of facilities to offload ship waste have been lacking and inadequate. In the wider Caribbean, this has especially been the case, where governments lack the capacity to enforce regulations and where almost no facilities exist to process ship waste properly, resulting in large amounts of marine pollution. This waste includes sludges, lubricant oils, plastic, chemical waste, and oil tank washings.

The Solution

To address this issue in the wider Caribbean, Clean Marine Group is building a MARPOL port reception Facility and Hydrocarbon Recovery Plant and tank farm that will have the capacity to process 120,000 tons of oily waste per year. The plant, based in Freeport, Bahamas, has emissions below the world’s most stringent environmental levels, with 97% of the oil recovered recycled and 100% of waste water recovered to a potable state. Freeport Harbour is currently the largest and busiest port in the Eatstern Seaboard. The facility will be capable of docking Post-Panamax III ships and VLCCs and service the Bahamas, USA East Coast and the Wider Caribbean.

How it Works

Once ships dock at the offloading facility, ships are met either by road tanker or barge and all ships slops, tank washings, ballast water, effluent and oily wastes are offloaded and collected. Once waste is removed from the ship, the waste is tested to determine its composition and a proper treatment course is applied to process the waste accordingly. After the waste is processed, anticipated byproducts include commodity standard IFO180 oil (a type of fuel oil used in the maritime industry), decanted sludge and potable water for reuse.


  • Bring more modern technology to the wider Caribbean region to assist ships in treating their waste and making the region more sustainable.
  • Create a sustainable fuel with discarded ship waste, one that can be reused by ships and burn cleaner and more efficiently.
  • Work with the IMO and governments in the region to strengthen enforcement capacity and technological development.
  • To ultimately end improper marine waste disposal and dumping of pollutants into the ocean.

Impact to Date

A small facility will begin operation in January 2020. The larger, complete facility will begin operation mid-2021.


  • Developing high-tech solutions requires many resources, including skilled local labor, materials, financial resources and education.
  • Foreign investment is often challenging due to compliance with certain requirements.
  • Remoteness and geography of island territories: there are over 700 islands in the Banahams alone, not all of which are inhabited.

Next Steps

  • Participate in the IBIA Caribbean Bunker Conference (ICBC) – The Caribbean Journey to 2020 Compliance, held in Jamaica January 2020.
  • Continue with scheduled construction of treatment facility.
  • Continue with technological development of using ship waste, including plastics, as sustainable fuels.
  • Continue to pioneer technologies in this region that can be applied to benefit the islands in other ways, such as clean water (many water sources are polluted by contaminated tidal waters).

For More Information


This information was based on an interview conducted with Michael Fitton of Clean Marine Limited.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter:

Sign up for Our Newsletter: