In order to establish a legal framework at EU level for the harmonized implementation of the relevant provisions of the Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers, set out in the Annex to Resolution A.862 (20) of the IMO Assembly of 27 November 1997, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the Directive 2001/96/EC on 4 December 2001, laying down harmonized rules and procedures for the safe loading and unloading of bulk carriers.

Directive 2001/96/EC was transposed into the national legal system by Decree-Law No. 323/2003 of 24 December, establishing that the terminal operators should:

  • Ensure that the terminals under their responsibility comply with the provisions of Annex II of the Decree-Law
  • Designate one or more representatives of the terminal responsible for loading and unloading bulk carriers
  • Provide the bulk carriers with a leaflet containing all the information necessary to facilitate cargo handling operations at the terminal
  • Create, implement and maintain a quality management system certified according to ISO 9001: 2000 or equivalent.

It further specifies the responsibilities and duties of the bulk carrier´s captain and the terminal representative, in addition to establishing the procedures to be followed by the captain and the terminal representative before and during loading and unloading operations, with particular emphasis on the need for effective communication and cooperation between the ship and the terminal.

Before the solid bulk cargoes are loaded or unloaded, the captain shall agree with the terminal representative a loading or unloading plan, and the terminal representative shall be responsible for loading or unloading the solid bulk cargo in accordance with the hold order, quantity and system of loading or unloading of these stated on that plan and shall not deviate from the agreed loading or unloading plan unless prior consultation and signed agreement of the captain is obtained.

The loading or unloading plans shall be kept on the ship and at the terminal for a period of six months.

The captain shall provide the terminal, in good time with regard to the estimated time of arrival of the vessel, with the information required by Annex III of the Decree-Law and shall also ensure, before any solid bulk cargo is loaded, that received the information required by Regulation VI/2.2 of 1974 SOLAS Convention. The terminal representative, upon receiving the initial communication of the estimated time of arrival of the vessel, shall provide the captain with the information referred to in Annex V of the Decree-Law and shall also inform, without delay, the captain and the port State control authority of any anomalies found on board the bulk carrier, which might compromise the safety of loading or unloading operations.

Decree-Law No. 323/2003 applies to:

  • All bulk carriers, irrespective of their flag, calling at a national terminal for the loading or unloading solid bulk cargoes
  • All national terminals that receive the bulk carriers referred to in the previous point.

This Decree-Law shall not apply to installations which are used only in exceptional circumstances for loading or unloading of solid bulk cargoes of bulk carriers neither in cases where loading or unloading operations are carried out only with the bulk carrier's own equipment in question.