July 11, 2003
Proposals to amend MARPOL 73/78, submitted by all the fifteen Member States of the European Union, call for further acceleration of the phase-out timetable for single-hull tankers, an immediate ban on the carriage of heavy grades of oil in single-hull tankers and for the Condition Assessment Scheme (adopted in 2001 in the wake of the 1999 Erika incident) to be applied to tankers of 15 years of age and above.
The MEPC will also consider with a view to approval the new versions of Annex I and Annex II of the MARPOL Convention, together with the proposed new categorization system for noxious and liquid substances. Requirements for the carriage of vegetable oils will be considered. This could be a more contentious issue than it might seem.
Intertanko cautions that "indecision over whether Marpol Annex II products should be recategorized into three categories or five is threatening to obstruct the regulation, resulting in delaying or even losing an opportunity to gain better protection of the environment."
The EU post-Prestige proposals have already been circulated among all IMO Member States and Parties to MARPOL.
The IMO Council has already sanctioned the possibility of holding an additional MEPC meeting in December. MEPC 49 will consider whether such a meeting is necessary, so that any measures arising from the proposals could be formally adopted.
To ensure IMO Member States have as much relevant information as possible, IMO Secretary-General William O'Neil reactivated the Informal Group of Experts, first commissioned in 2000 to assess the likely effect of post-Erika proposals, to study the impact of the EU proposals. The completed study will be available to delegates when they consider the new proposals. It takes into account criteria such as the volume of oil and oil products carried by oil tankers world-wide and by region; the number of single-hull tankers to be affected by the proposals; the capacity of shipyards needed to replace the single-hull tankers that would be withdrawn from service compared with the capacity of shipyards available world-wide; and the annual scrapping capacity of ship-recycling facilities.
Proposal for a West European PSSA
The MEPC will also consider a proposal from Australia and Papua New Guinea for the extension of the Great Barrier Reef PSSA to cover Torres Strait Region, together with the associated protective measures; ad the Paracas National Reserve PSSA in Peru.
Ballast water management - draft convention
The problem of harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water was first raised at IMO in 1988 and since then the MEPC, together with MSC and technical sub-committees, has been dealing with the issue. In order to help developing countries understand the problem and monitor the situation, IMO is implementing the GEF/UNDP/IMO Global Ballast Water Management Program (GloBallast) and has provided technical support and expertise.
The problem of invasive species is largely due to the expanded trade and traffic volume over the last few decades. The effects in the waters of Australia, Canada and the United States as well as the Black Sea have been devastating. Volumes of seaborne trade continue overall to increase and the problem may not yet have reached its peak.
MEPC 49 will also be invited to review the status of MARPOL Annex VI on air pollution, including identification of the impediments to entry into force of the Annex, bearing in mind that the entry into force conditions had not been met by 31 December 2002.
The draft guidelines recognize that, while the principle of ship recycling may be sound, the working practices and environmental standards in the yards often leave much to be desired. While ultimate responsibility for conditions in the yards has to lie with the countries in which they are situated, other stakeholders must be encouraged to contribute towards minimising potential problems in the yards.
The guidelines will give advice to all stakeholders in the recycling process, including administrations of shipbuilding and maritime equipment supplying countries, flag, port and recycling states, as well as intergovernmental organizations and commercial bodies such as shipowners, ship builders, repairers and recycling yards.
Draft guidelines and resolutions to be adopted
MEPC resolution on Tripartite Agreement
MEPC resolution on Revised Guidelines for the approval of the alternative methods of design of oil tankers under regulation13F(5) of Annex I of MARPOL 73/78
Application of MARPOL to FPSOs and FSUs
Antifouling and OPRC
Implementation of the OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol