July 22, 2003
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 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)
Proposal for a West European PSSA
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
Paracas National Reserve PSSA adopted
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 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.
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.
Entry into force of MARPOL Annex VI
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
MEPC resolution on Tripartite Agreement
Application of MARPOL to FPSOs and FSUs
Implementation of MARPOL Annex IV (Sewage)
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 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
Form of the Oil Record Book
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.