In July 2011, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) designated the Baltic Sea as a special area for sewage from passenger ships. The decision entered into force on 1 January 2013.
Applicable dates of enforcement were decided on by IMO in 2016 to be 1 June 2021 for existing IMO registered passenger ships, 1 June 2019 for new passenger ships. For direct passages between St. Petersburg and the North Sea there is an extension until 1 June 2023.
The effective application of this already existing legal status has been, according to the 2011 IMO decision, subject to the availability of adequate sewage Port Reception Facilities (PRF) in the region. This availability of adequate sewage PRF has to be separately notified to IMO MEPC by the coastal countries. All HELCOM countries have informed of such adequacy to IMO by 2016.