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Sekimizu Wants Polar Code, Ballast Water Action

By MarEx 2014-10-14 20:47:00

Koji Sekimizu, IMO secretary-general, has highlighted the importance of the Polar Code and the Ballast Water Management Convention in his opening remarks at MEPC67 this week.

The Maritime Safety Committee approved the draft Polar Code in May with a view to adopting it and associated SOLAS changes at MSC 94 in November. “The principal remaining task for this Committee is now to finalize Part II of the Code addressing pollution prevention measures and the associated MARPOL amendments,” says Sekimizu. He concedes that there are still several challenges to be overcome, but hopes that entry into force will remain on target for January 2017.  

“This will be timely to demonstrate to the outside world that the organization is once again taking the lead as a global standard-setter – by pioneering the first-ever internationally binding regime covering the full range of vessel design, construction, equipment, operational and training matters, environmental protection and search and rescue in the remote and inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles.”

For the ballast water management convention, Sekimizu noted a number of positive developments since MEPC66. Four additional States (Japan, Jordan, Tonga and the Republic of Congo) have become contracting parties. The total number of ratifications or accessions now stands at 42, representing 32.02 percent of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant fleet.

“The new sub-committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments, which held its first session in July, finalized its work on the intensively discussed draft Guidelines for port State control under the 2004 Ballast Water Management Convention. I therefore urge the committee to resolve the outstanding issue of sampling and indicative analysis of ballast water and to adopt these long-awaited guidelines at this session. 

“Also at this session the committee will be addressing industry concerns pertaining to the effective implementation of the convention, including legal clarity over the type approval of ballast water management systems. In this context, the committee will be invited to consider a study on the implementation of the ballast water performance standard described in regulation D-2 of the convention. Conducting this study, for which the secretariat has developed a draft plan and terms of reference, should contribute to further facilitating implementation and encouraging ratification of the convention.”

IMO has put a lot of effort into the convention since 2004, says Sekimizu, including the multi-million dollar, GEF/UNDP/IMO GloBallast project, assisting developing countries to prepare for the implementation of the convention. 

“I trust that throughout this week’s discussions the committee will stay firmly focused on the ultimate objective of the Convention – to prevent the global spread of invasive aquatic species through ships’ ballast waters and sediments, which is inherently linked to the expansion of international shipping as world trade continues to grow and we do it under the IMO system, that is the implementation of agreed global standards and IMO measures under the IMO convention.”

Also on the agenda is the Hong Kong Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships. Norway, France and the Republic of the Congo are the only states to have ratified the convention to date “Once again I urge Member States that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Hong Kong Convention and thus promote its entry into force in the near future for the benefits of the environment, the shipping industry and the ship recycling countries.”

Regarding air emissions, the committee is expected to respond to concerns raised at MSC93 last May about the safety risks associated with poor fuel oil quality. The key issue for this meeting is to reconcile the diverging views on what quality control measures such as existing provisions in MARPOL Annex VI or the need for an amendment to the Annex. An alternative option, not necessarily favoured by Sekimizu is the development of a non-mandatory guidance based on good practice taking account of existing procedures in some of the world’s leading bunkering ports. “I would like to urge the committee to consider how such non-mandatory guidance could effectively be implemented and enforced without legally binding requirements. Fuel oil quality is of paramount importance for safe shipping and to avoid pollution and IMO should regulate this.”

Additionally, the committee is expected to consider a definition of Black Carbon, which is important in the context of work to address the adverse impact of ships’ emissions on the Arctic. The committee is also expected to review and approve the Third IMO Greenhouse Gas Study (2014). “It is encouraging to see that contribution from international shipping to the Global GHG emission was reduced from 2.7% to 2.2% in 2012 and that the positive impact of IMO agreed emission reduction measures is highlighted in the study. Shipping has a great potential for growth to meet the demand of the world economy but shipping has also, a great potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions, while achieving further growth of maritime transport.

“All this and other IMO on-going work on greenhouse gas emissions, such as the accelerated implementation of the Energy Efficiency Design Index to extend its application to a wide range of ship types, is ample evidence of the organization’s contribution to address climate change concerns.  Most recently, these concerns were the focus of a one-day Climate Summit convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, on 23 September, under the banner “There is no Plan B for climate change action as there is no Planet B”.  We, at IMO, can certainly be confident as well as proud to publicize our ground-breaking contribution to climate change abatement with regard to international shipping.”