July 22, 2003

IMO moves towards accelerated phase out of single hulls
An extra session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) will be convened in December. It will consider the adoption of proposals for an accelerated phase-out scheme for single hull tankers, along with other measures including an extended application of the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) for tankers.

What remains unclear at this stage is the extent to which any measures taken will differ from those to which the European Union appears committed. What also remains unclear is whether the EU has any leeway--or inclination--to alter its proposed regulations to fit whatever emerges from the December meeting.

The proposals considered last week were submitted by all the fifteen Member States of the European Union. The EU called 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 proposed amendments to MARPOL 73/78 were discussed during the week-long forty-ninth session of the MEPC which ended July 18.

Speaking at the close of the session, IMO Assistant Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos said that the outcome of the intense negotiations on the issue was successful in general terms, although the decisions made were not final, pending the extra MEPC session in December.

Although a number of points within the overall context of the proposed draft amendments to MARPOL were left in square brackets (awaiting final decision), "the outcome of this week's work shows the emerging trends on which Governments, the industry and, as necessary, the Secretariat should work between now and December to pave the way for consensus decisions to be made at the end of the day," Mr. Mitropoulos said.

"We should, therefore, be hopeful that the good spirit of co-operation, which prevailed during the week, will also be demonstrated in December so that IMO would be able, once again, to do what it was founded to do, that is to encourage and facilitate the adoption of global standards to regulate shipping, and that it does so on the basis of realistic, pragmatic and well-balanced consideration of items on its agenda," he added.

At its 49th regular session, the MEPC also finalized a new proposed draft convention on the management of ballast water and agreed ship recycling guidelines.

The MEPC met at IMO headquarters in London, from 14-18 July, under the chairmanship of Mr. Andreas Chrysostomou (Cyprus)

Single-hull tankers - proposals to amend MARPOL 73/78
The MEPC held extensive discussions in a Working Group and in plenary in relation to proposals to amend MARPOL 73/78, submitted by all the fifteen Member States of the European Union, calling 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 outcome of the discussions was as follows, with further discussion scheduled for the extra MEPC session in December, which will consider, with a view to adoption, the proposed amendments to MARPOL 73/78:

The MEPC agreed on an accelerated phase-out for Category 1 tankers (pre-MARPOL tankers). This would bring forward the final phasing–out date for these tankers to 2005, from 2007.

The MEPC discussed the proposal to bring forward the phasing-out of category 2 and 3 tankers (MARPOL tankers and smaller tankers) to 2010, from 2015. While there was substantial support in principle to the 2010 deadline, there was also concern relating to the phase-out of tankers of less than 20 years old in 2010 that this would lead to.

There was a suggested proposal, for further consideration in December, which could see the operational life of these tankers extending to 2015 or until the ship reaches a specified age (e.g. 20, 23 or 25 years), subject to satisfactory results from the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS).

The MEPC agreed, in principle, that the CAS should be applied to single-hull tankers of 15 years, or older (as against being applicable to all Category 1 vessels continuing to trade after 2005 and all Category 2 vessels after 2010.) The MEPC agreed to circulate the proposed CAS amendments with a view to consideration for adoption at the extra session in December.

The MEPC noted the proposed consequential enhancements to the CAS scheme which would be needed. The Committee further noted that in order to adequate CAS to future challenges such as its possible application to double-hull tankers or enhanced requirements for tankers carrying heated cargoes, intensive work is needed. It noted with appreciation an offer by the United Kingdom to host an informal meeting on these issues with industry and interested Administrations, prior to the extra MEPC meeting in December.

The MEPC considered the proposed draft regulation on the carriage of Heavy Grades of Oil (HGO) in single-hull tankers, which would ban the carriage of HGO in single-hull tankers. The MEPC agreed on the need for further technical discussion at the December meeting of the proposed new regulation 13H on Prevention of oil pollution when carrying heavy grades of oil, in particular in relation to the physical properties of heavy grades of oil (including their definition, in relation to density and/or kinematic viscosity) and in pollution combating.

The MEPC noted the differing views on the issue of tankers carrying HGO engaged in domestic trades, regarding possible exemptions for tankers on local voyages and agreed this was a policy matter for a decision later. The MEPC agreed that the Informal Group of Experts should be re-established to review the impact of the proposals discussed at this session.

Extra session of the Committee (MEPC 50)
The extra session of the Committee will be held as MEPC 50 on 1 and 4 December 2003, during the 23rd IMO Assembly, which meets from 24 November to 5 December 2003.

Proposal for a West European PSSA
The MEPC approved in principle a proposal for Belgium, France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom to designate a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) to cover a wide sea area west of these countries, subject to the area being reduced to bring the easterly line off the Shetlands Isles to 00 longitude.

The States proposing the measure withdrew an earlier proposal to ban carriage of heavy fuel oil in single hull tankers in the PSSA and instead agreed that the Associated Protective Measures linked to the PSSA would, at this stage, concern a proposed 48-hour reporting rule for ships carrying certain cargoes entering the PSSA. This measure would be referred to the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV), meeting mid-2004, for consideration.

Delegations who had raised potential legal issues relating to the application of the PSSA were invited to refer these concerns to the Legal Committee, which is scheduled to meet in October 2003 and April 2004.

The Western European Waters PSSA will be considered by the Committee for potential final designation at the regular session of MEPC in October 2004.

Great Barrier Reef PSSA extended
The MEPC approved in principle 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, subject to clarification on the compulsory pilotage measures at NAV 50 in 2004. The extended PSSA will be expected to be designated at a regular session of MEPC in October 2004.

Paracas National Reserve PSSA adopted
The MEPC adopted the Paracas National Reserve, Peru, as a PSSA.

Including the Paracas PSSA, there are now six designated PSSAs--the others being: the Great Barrier Reef, Australia; the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago in Cuba; Malpelo Island, Colombia; Around the Florida Keys, United States; and the Wadden Sea (Denmark, Germany, Netherlands).

Ballast water management – draft convention
The MEPC agreed a finalized draft of the proposed International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, and agreed to hold a diplomatic conference from 9 to13 February 2004 to adopt the Convention in accordance with the agreed timetable already approved by the Council.

The Committee conducted an article-by-article review of the draft taking into account the report of the second intersessional meeting of the Ballast Water Working Group.

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.

Ship recycling
The MEPC approved draft Guidelines on Ship Recycling and the associated Assembly resolution, for submission to the 23rd Assembly later this year for adoption.

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 related to health, safety and protection of the environment in the recycling facilities. The guidelines will give advice to all stakeholders in the recycling process, including administrations of ship building 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. The Committee also agreed a program of future work on ship recycling issues.

The MEPC noted that technical guidelines for specific disposal operations and for specific wastes which may be relevant to ship recycling activities have been developed under the Basel Convention, and that existing ILO Conventions, Recommendations and Codes of Practice can be applied to deal with numerous occupational safety and health hazards and worker protection issues arising from ship recycling operations. The Committee agreed to recommend to the International Labour Organization and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention that relevant information be made available on their websites.

Greenhouse gases
The MEPC finalized a draft Assembly resolution on IMO Policies and Practices related to reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships, for submission to the Assembly in November-December.

Entry into force of MARPOL Annex VI
The MEPC noted that the requirements for entry into force of Annex VI of MARPOL 73/78 on Regulations for prevention of pollution by air pollution from ships (adopted in 1997) were nearly satisfied. As of 20 June 2003, Annex VI of MARPOL 73/78 has been ratified by 11 States representing well over 50% of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant shipping and ratifications by only four more States are required to satisfy the conditions for entry into force: ratification by at least 15 states with not less than 50% of world merchant shipping tonnage.

Cyprus, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain stated that their national procedures for the ratification of the Protocol of 1997 to MARPOL 73/78 have reached the final stage and they would be able to deposit their instrument of ratification for Annex VI shortly. This would mean that the Annex might satisfy the entry into force conditions before the end of year 2003, and would enter into force twelve months later.

Guidelines and resolutions adopted
The following MEPC resolutions were adopted:

MEPC resolution on Tripartite Agreement
MEPC resolution on Revised Guidelines for the approval of the alternative methods of design of oil tankers under regulation 13F(5) of Annex I of MARPOL 73/78
MEPC resolution on Guidelines for on-board NOx verification procedure
MEPC resolution on revised Guidelines and specifications for pollution control equipment for machinery space bilges of ships
MEPC resolution on Revised Guidelines and specifications for oil discharge monitoring and control systems for oil tankers
MEPC resolution on Guidelines for inspections of ships' anti-fouling systems

Application of MARPOL to FPSOs and FSUs
The MEPC approved an MEPC circular on Guidelines for the application of MARPOL Annex I requirements to FPSOs and FSUs.

Implementation of MARPOL Annex IV (Sewage)
The MEPC agreed an MEPC Circular on on the implementation of the revised Annex IV Regulations for the prevention of pollution by sewage from ships of MARPOL 73/78.

MARPOL Annex IV will enter into force on 27 September 2003. However, Parties to MARPOL have been urged to implement the revised Annex IV, which was approved by the MEPC at its 44th session, with a view to its adoption after the entry into force of the original Annex IV.

The revised Annex will be put forward for adoption at the MEPC's March session in 2004, but the revised Annex IV would only become effective in July 2005. There would be a possibility of confusion as to which text, either the original or revised Annex IV, should be applied among Parties to the Annex.

The Circular reconfirms that Parties be recommended to apply the revised Annex IV upon the entry into force of the existing Annex IV.

However, in order to avoid confusion among Parties to Annex IV, any Parties to Annex IV which may not be able to modify their national legislation to implement the revised Annex IV until its entry into force in July 2005 as expected, are requested not to apply, for the purpose of port State control, requirements of the original Annex IV to ships of foreign flag falling under those categories of ships which will be exempted from application in the revised Annex IV; and not to apply any punitive measures for such ships, during the transitional period from the date of entry into force of the original Annex IV until the date of entry into force of the revised Annex IV.

Approval of the revised text of MARPOL Annex I and Annex II
The new versions of Annex I and Annex II of the MARPOL Convention, were approved, in principle, together with the proposed new four-category categorization system for noxious and liquid substances. The revised texts of both Annexes will be reconfirmed at MEPC 51 in March 2004 and will be considered for adoption at MEPC 52 in October 2004.

Anti-fouling Systems
The MEPC adopted two sets of guidelines relating to the 2001 International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships: Guidelines for brief sampling of anti-fouling systems and Guidelines for inspections of ships anti-fouling systems.

The Guidelines were developed by the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation.

Japan ratified the AFS Convention on 8 July 2003; Norway was expected to ratify the AFS Convention soon; and Greece and Spain are both in the process of ratifying the AFS Convention and expect the Convention to be ratified in towards the end of 2003. For entry in to force, the AFS Convention requires ratification by 25 States representing 25% of the world's merchant shipping tonnage.

Implementation of the OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol
The MEPC approved revised guidance document on bioremediation; the Terms of Reference for an OPRC and OPRC-HNS Protocol Technical Group; a progress report from the Correspondence Group on the Review of the Manual on Chemical Pollution; and an action plan to promote the recommendations of the Third Research and Development Forum on High Density Oil Response.

Form of the Oil Record Book
Problems involving port State control issues relating to the Form of the Oil Record Book Part I were brought to the attention of the MEPC. The problems have arisen due to consequential editing of the Form of the Oil Record Book Part I (MARPOL 73/78, Consolidated Edition 2002), resulting in differences between the Form of the Oil Record Book Part I in the 1997 and 2002 Consolidated Editions.

The Committee agreed that the Form of Oil Record Book Part I as contained in both the 1997 and 2002 Consolidated Editions of MARPOL 73/78 should be accepted for port State control purposes until the draft revised MARPOL Annex I containing the amended Form of Oil Record Book Part I has been adopted by the Committee and has entered into force.

Follow-up to UNCED/WSSD The MEPC approved a draft Assembly resolution on Follow-up to UNCED and WSSD for submission to the 23rd Assembly, which outlines further work for IMO in the context of Agenda 21, adopted by UNCED in 1992, and the Plan of Implementation adopted by the World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002.

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