SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 — IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meets for its 64th session October 1-5. As ever, its work will result in yet more regulatory burdens on shipowners, who will just have to console themselves with the fact that things would be even worse if left to individual national governments.
As well working on energy-efficiency, ballast water management and ship-recycling regulations, the MEPC will also consider formally designating the Saba Bank, in the North-eastern Caribbean area of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA).
The MEPC agenda includes more work on technical and operational measures relating to energy-efficiency measures. This follows adoption of the new chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI. It enters into force on January 1, 2013 and has new requirements mandating the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships.
MEPC's work will include the development of guidelines for determining the minimum propulsion power and speed to enable safe maneuvering in adverse weather and the development of EEDI frameworks for ships not currently covered, such as RO/ROs and cruise ships, and ships with non-conventional propulsion systems, e.g., diesel-electric or turbine propulsion.
Regulation 23 of the new Annex VI chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI requires Administrations, in cooperation with IMO and other international bodies, to promote and provide support to states, especially developing states, that ask for technical assistance. It also requires countries that are party to Annex VI to cooperate to promote the development and transfer of technology and exchange of information to states that seek such technical assistance. MEPC will consider a draft resolution intended to provide a framework for promoting and facilitating technology transfer to support implementation of the new regulations on energy efficiency.
MEPC will continue to look at proposed market-based measures (MBMs) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships. Discussions will focus on an update of the GHG emissions' estimate for international shipping and the methodology and criteria for a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the market-based measures proposals on consumers and industries in developing countries.
MEPC will further consider the availability of fuel oil to meet the requirements set out in the MARPOL Annex VI regulation on emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx) from ships.
Fuel oil sulfur content is required to be a maximum of 3.50% m/m outside an Emission Control Area , falling to 0.50% m/m on and after January 1, 2020. Depending on the outcome of a review, to be completed by 2018, this requirement could be deferred January 1, 2025.
The MEPC is expected to consider the start date for this review.
Within ECAs, fuel oil sulfur content must be no more than 1.00% m/m; falling to 0.10% m/m on and after January 1, 2015.
The MEPC will consider the reports of a Ballast Water Working Group, with a view to granting basic approval to five, and final approval to three, ballast water management systems that make use of active substances.
The MEPC is expected to reiterate the need for more countries to ratify the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004, to achieve its entry into force at the earliest opportunity. To date, 36 states, with an aggregate merchant shipping tonnage of 29.07 percent of the world total, have ratified the convention. The Convention will enter into force twelve months after the date on which not fewer than 30 States, the combined merchant fleets of which constitute not less than 35 per cent of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant shipping, have become Parties to it.
The Committee will also consider a number of proposals related to the practical implementation of the Convention, aimed at harmonizing the type-approval and sampling procedures, and eliminating uncertainties with regard to compliance and preventing the possibility of improperly penalizing ships' crew members.
Specific proposals related to highly specialized ships will also be examined, with a view to developing specific guidance for offshore support vessels and mobile offshore units, in anticipation of the entry into force of the BWM Convention.
RECYCLING OF SHIPS
The MEPC will consider draft guidelines intended to help ship-recycling facilities and shipping companies to begin introducing voluntary improvements to meet the requirements of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, which was adopted in May 2009. The treaty will enter into force 24 months after ratification by 15 States, representing 40 percent of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, and combined maximum annual ship-recycling volume not less than 3 per cent of their combined tonnage. Efforts are being made to encourage governments to ratify the Hong Kong Convention at their earliest convenience.
... AND MORE
Saba Bank PSSA designation to be considered
The MEPC will consider formally designating the Saba Bank, in the North-eastern Caribbean area of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA).
Amendments to the IBC Code set for adoption
The MEPC will consider, for adoption, draft amendments to chapters 17, 18 and 19 of the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), which have been already been approved for adoption by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 90).
Sewage treatment plant guideline set for adoption
The MEPC is expected to consider for adoption draft 2012 Guidelines on implementation of effluent standards and performance tests for sewage treatment plants, which are intended to provide guidance on the implementation of new requirements (coming into effect from 1 January 2016) for sewage treatment plants installed on passenger ships operating in MARPOL Annex IV special areas.
Mandatory audit scheme: approval of draft III Code and MARPOL amendments expected
The MEPC is expected to approve the draft IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code), which sets the standard for the IMO audit scheme, and to approve draft amendments to MARPOL to make the III Code and auditing mandatory under that treaty.
The aim is to adopt the MARPOL amendments in 2014, once the III Code has been formally adopted by the IMO Assembly, in 2013.
Recognized organizations code to be approved
The MEPC is expected to approve the draft Code for Recognized Organizations (ROs) and related draft amendments to MARPOL (Annexes I and II) to make it mandatory, for adoption at a future session.
The Code will provide a consolidated text containing criteria against which ROs (which may be authorized by flag States to carry out surveys and issue certificates on their behalf) are assessed and authorized/recognized, and give guidance for subsequent monitoring of ROs by Administrations.