MEPC 68 | IMO Reports | Annual General Assemblies

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Unity for Safety at Sea


MEPC 68 attracted three IFSMA representatives. Some representatives may be conflicted and therefore it was recommended that attention was paid to the staffing of plenary throughout. It was anticipated that environmental NGOs will have a significant presence and are likely to make substantial interventions.

There was a substantial amount of work on the agenda with 163 papers in total so that a significant proportion would be offloaded to the PPR sub-committee.

It was anticipated that the following working, drafting and review groups would be formed at this session:

  • Working Group 1 on Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency
  • Working Group 2 on Further Technical and Operational Measures for enhancing the Energy Efficiency of International Shipping
  • Drafting Group on Amendments to Mandatory Instruments and
  • Ballast Water Review Group

Agenda Item 1 – Adoption of the Agenda
No significant comment

Agenda Item 2 – Harmful Aquatic Organisms in Ballast Water

The main discussion under this agenda item will be the review of the G8 guidelines on type approval of Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS). With ratifications now at 32.86% (entry into force 1 year after 35% achieved) it is a concern that fundamental issues such as these have not been resolved.

Attention is drawn to paper 68/2/16 submitted by industry and co-sponsored by the ITF and Nautical Institute. This paper requests clarification on any “grandfathering” that may apply to “early movers” as a result if the G8 guidelines review. These requests are considered premature as the review is not complete and the need for any grandfathering has not been confirmed.

Flag States maintain that despite continued protests from industry, they have yet to be provided with any examples of a type approved BWMS failing to meet the D2 standard when operated and maintained correctly. This has been confirmed in tests carried out by Singapore and Japan (detailed in papers 68/2/9 and 69/2/13)

Attention is drawn to paper 68/2/14 submitted by the secretariat which sets out the legal position on the application of guidelines for the approval of ballast water management systems

Agenda Item 3 – Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency

Attention is drawn to paper 68/3/3 which is the report of the Correspondence Group on 0.5% Sulphur fuel availability. Investigations already carried out by Flag States confirm that there will be no issue in supplying the low sulphur fuel. Extensive discussion is expected with those who wish to see the 0.5% limit deferred until 2025 doing all in their power to delay the conclusion of this review for as long as possible. If successful they will then be able to claim that there is insufficient time for industry to prepare for the 2020 deadline regardless of the outcome of the review
Paper 68/3/4 is the report of the Correspondence group on Fuel Quality submitted by the United States. Some Flag States are concerned that proposals for fuel sampling would impose unnecessary burdens on their resources and they are therefore eager to ensure that these guidelines are not made mandatory

Papers 68/3/11 submitted by Denmark and Japan and 68/3/28 submitted by Greece address minimum propulsion power required to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse weather. Both papers propose a review of the Interim Guidelines although the Greek paper goes a lot further. Whilst acknowledging that there is a serious issue here, some flag states may be reluctant to support the Greek approach due to their eagerness to see the work on the EEDI completed. Greece publically hold the view that getting it right is more important than getting it finished yet the longer the delay, the better it is for owners with older vessels. IFSMA have supported Greece on this issue previously, despite their motive and should do so again at this session. [Speaking note required]

Agenda Item 4 – Further Technical and Operational Measures for Enhancing the Energy Efficiency of International Shipping

Attention is drawn to paper 68/4 which is the report of the Correspondence Group on the proposed data collection system for fuel consumption. There is likely to be extended discussion on this item mainly focussed around Industry’s reluctance to supply the required information due to confidentiality issues

Paper 68/4/1 submitted by Austria et al gives details of the EU’s future Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV) system for CO2 emissions and proposes using this as a basis for an international system

Paper 68/4/3 submitted by Belgium, France, Germany and the UK addresses the concerns raised by industry regarding the suitability of measures to enhance energy efficiency. Industry have submitted commenting paper 68/4/9 which simply repeats the concerns that have already been addressed

Agenda Item 5 – Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships

Attention is drawn to paper 68/5/1 submitted by Marshall Islands. This paper proposes a Green House Gas (GHG) reduction target for international shipping in order to limit the effects of climate change. Although this is a laudable objective it is felt that the timing is bad and that this will be a “gift” for those that seek to obstruct progress

Agenda Item 6 – Consideration and Adoption of Amendments to Mandatory Instruments
No significant comment

Agenda Item 7 – Amendments to MARPOL Annex V, Form of Garbage Record Book
No significant comment

Agenda Item 8 – Review of Nitrogen and Phosphorous Removal Standards in the 2012 Guidelines on the Implementation of Effluent Standards and Performance Tests for Sewage Treatment Plants
No papers submitted

Agenda Item 9 – Use of Electronic Record Books

There is one paper submitted under this Agenda item which is the report of the correspondence group submitted by Australia. Whilst this non-mandatory guidance is expected to be widely supported, there are still some issues such as what happens if the ship is sold or reflagged that need to be addressed

Agenda Item 10 – Identification and Protection of Special Areas and PSSAS

Attention is drawn to paper 68/10/2 submitted by the Baltic States (excluding the Russian Federation). The paper proposes an entry into force date for special area requirements in the Baltic Sea under MARPOL Annex IV. Russia and CLIA have submitted commenting papers opposing the proposals. The legality of the implementing the requirements without the agreement of all Baltic States is questionable. Significant discussion on this issue is expected

Agenda Item 11 – Inadequacy of reception Facilities
No significant comment

Agenda Item 12 – Reports of Sub-committees
Attention is drawn to paper 68/12/13 submitted by the Russian Federation. This paper is expected to receive significant opposition as it attempts to re-open NOX Tier III issues that have already been agreed

Agenda Item 13 – Work of Other Bodies
No significant comment

Agenda Item 14 – Promotion of Implementation and Enforcement of MARPOL and Related Instruments
No significant comment

Agenda Item 15 – Technical Co-operation Activities for the Protection of the Marine Environment
No significant comment

Agenda Item 16 - Capacity Building for the Implementation of New Measures
No significant comment

Agenda Item 17 – Work Programme of the Committee and Subsidiary Bodies

Attention is drawn to paper 68/17/2 submitted by Germany, Netherlands and United Kingdom et al. This paper proposes a review of Annex II discharge requirements to deal with the problem of paraffin wax residues washing up on European beaches

Attention is drawn to paper 68/17/3 submitted by the Russian Federation which proposes a review of the impact of shipping on underwater noise pollution. It is somewhat surprising given their position on other environmental issues that the Russian Federation is proposing new measures. It is felt that this may be designed to improve Russia’s environmental credentials ahead of the upcoming election for Secretary General or there may be other reasons for their interest in this field

Agenda Item 18 – Application of the Committees Guidelines
No significant comment

Agenda Item 19 – Election of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman for 2016
No significant comment
Agenda Item 20 – Any Other Business
No significant comment