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September 3, 2002

Liberia ratifies air pollution convention

Annex VI to the MARPOL convention was adopted back in September 1997. It's an important international agreement to shipowners and engine manufacturers because it sets extremely attainable limits on air pollution from ships. Without these international limits in place, the door is wide open for local and regional authorities to unilaterally impose a patchwork of far tougher regulations. The annex will enter into force 12 months after being ratified by 15 States whose combined fleets of merchant shipping constitute at least 50% of the world fleet. Until recently, however, governments have been hanging back.

Now, to universal sighs of relief from shipowners' organizations, Liberia has become the first major flag state to ratify Annex VI.

Yoram Cohen, CEO of LISCR, the U.S. company that manages the Liberian Registry, says, "Responsible flag states have a duty to show leadership and encourage international uniformity of regulation. We are proud that, as by far the largest high-quality ship registry, Liberia has taken a lead over air pollution control and so helped move international regulation back where it belongs, with IMO and flag states, rather than abdicating responsibility to a regional patchwork of port states acting unilaterally."

Chris Horrocks, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping, says, "We welcome this step, and urge other flag states to follow the example of Liberia as soon as possible."

Dr Peter Swift, managing director of Intertanko, says, "We very much welcome this news, which is a significant step forward for this most important piece of international legislation, and Liberia is to be congratulated for again demonstrating its responsible approach to such matters."

Joseph E Ludwiczak, general secretary of the Liberian Shipowners Council, says, "The LSC welcomes Liberia's ratification of Annex VI, not only because it will substantially reduce global marine air emissions, but also because it does so via a single international instrument rather than a plethora of varying unilateral or regional regulations, which would impede both compliance and enforcement."

Roger Holt, secretary-general of Intercargo, says, "Intercargo applauds the Liberian Register in its decision to ratify MARPOL Annex VI on air pollution from ships and would like to encourage other flag state nations to follow suit so that the convention can be brought into force as soon as possible."

Liberia's move brings the total of states ratifying the convention to six, with 26 percent of the world fleet. "We hope and expect that other quality registries will follow our lead," says Yoram Cohen. "IMO and shipowners should get support from flag states."

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