Progress Made at MEPC 69
The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 69th session, was held from April 18-22 with progress made on a range of issues:
Mandatory system for collecting ships’ fuel consumption data approved
The MEPC approved mandatory requirements for ships to record and report data on their fuel consumption together with additional data on proxies for the “transport work” undertaken by the ship.
The mandatory data collection system is intended to be the first step in a three-step process in which analysis of the data collected would provide the basis for an objective, transparent and inclusive policy debate in the MEPC. This would allow a decision to be made on whether any further measures are needed to enhance energy efficiency and address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. If so, proposed policy options would then be considered. (See Briefing 11/016)
Reduction of GHG emissions from ships
The MEPC welcomed the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC and recognized the role of IMO in mitigating the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. Following a wide-ranging discussion on future work to further address greenhouse gas emissions from ships, the Committee agreed to establish a working group at MEPC 70 for an in-depth debate on how to progress the matter.
Adoption of amendments to MARPOL
The MEPC adopted amendments to MARPOL and the NOX Technical Code 2008, with expected entry into force on September 1, 2017:
• amendments to MARPOL Annex II, appendix I, related to the revised GESAMP hazard evaluation procedure;
• amendments to MARPOL Annex IV relating to the dates for implementation of the discharge requirements for passenger ships while in a special area, i.e. not before 1 June 2019 for new passenger ships and not before June 1, 2021, for existing passenger ships;
• amendments to MARPOL Annex VI regarding record requirements for operational compliance with NOX Tier III emission control areas;
• amendments to the NOX Technical Code 2008 to facilitate the testing of gas-fuelled engines and dual fuel engines;
Establishment of effective dates for the Baltic Sea Special Area
The MEPC agreed to establish the effective dates for the application of the Baltic Sea Special Area under MARPOL Annex IV (Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships).
In the special area, the discharge of sewage from passenger ships will generally be prohibited unless the ship has in operation an approved sewage treatment plant that meets the applicable additional effluent standards for nitrogen and phosphorus in accordance with the 2012 Guidelines on implementation of effluent standards and performance tests for sewage treatment plants (resolution MEPC.227(64)).
The dates are: for new passenger ships, on June 1, 2019; for existing passenger ships other than those specified below, on June 1, 2021; and for existing passenger ships en route directly to or from a port located outside the special area and to or from a port located east of longitude 28˚10' E within the special area that do not make any other port calls within the special area, on June 1, 2023.
An MEPC resolution adopting the effective dates encourages Member Governments, industry groups and other stakeholders to comply immediately on a voluntary basis with the Special Area requirements for the Baltic Sea Special Area.
Implementation of the BWM Convention
The MEPC noted that the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention), 2004, is very close to reaching its entry into force criteria and welcomed the efforts being made by a number of States to ratify the treaty in the near future. To date, 49 States with an aggregate of 34.79 percent of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage have acceded to the Convention. The entry into force criteria requires 35 percent of world tonnage. The Convention aims to prevent the global spread of invasive aquatic species through ships’ ballast water and sediments.
The MEPC approved draft amendments to regulation B-3 of the Convention relating to the time scale for implementation of the requirements, to be held in abeyance and circulated on entry into force of the BWM Convention for subsequent adoption.
The Committee granted Final Approval to three further ballast water management systems that make use of active substances bringing the number of type-approved systems to 65.
Meanwhile, the correspondence group on the review of the Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8) was re-established to continue its work.
Designation of Philippines Tubbataha Reefs as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area
The MEPC approved, in principle, the designation of the marine area known as the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, located between the islands of the Philippines and North Borneo, as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA), in order to provide special protection from international shipping. This ecologically important sea area is already on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The Philippines is expected to submit its proposal for an "Area To Be Avoided" (ATBA) for all ships of 150 GT and above in the proposed PSSA to the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications, Search and Rescue (NCSR), for adoption by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). The PSSA could then be formally designated by MEPC 71 in spring 2017.
Energy efficiency of international shipping
The Energy-Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships and associated operational energy-efficiency measures for existing ships became mandatory in 2013, with the entry into force of relevant amendments to MARPOL Annex VI. The regulations require IMO to review the status of technological developments and, if proven necessary, amend the time periods and the EEDI reference line parameters for relevant ship types and reduction rates.
Data received by the IMO Secretariat identifies that so far nearly 1,200 ships have been certified as complying with the new energy-efficiency design standards.
The MEPC considered an interim report of its correspondence group reviewing the status of technological developments relevant to implementing Phase 2 of the EEDI regulations. Following consideration, the Committee instructed the group to continue considering the status of technological developments for ro-ro cargo ships and ro-ro passenger ships and to make recommendations to MEPC 70 on whether the time periods, the EEDI reference line parameters for relevant ship types and the reduction rates (in regulation 21 of MRPOL Annex VI) should be retained or, if proven necessary, amended.
Fuel oil quality
The report of a correspondence group established to consider possible quality-control measures prior to fuel oil being delivered to a ship was considered by the MEPC. Following discussion, the Committee encouraged the fuel oil supply industry to develop draft best practice for fuel oil providers and submit this best practice to the Committee for consideration at a future session.
The Committee also agreed that best practice for fuel oil purchasers/users and Member States/coastal States should be developed and instructed the correspondence group to continue its work on this guidance. The Committee decided not to continue its consideration of the adequacy of the current legal framework in MARPOL Annex VI.
Decision on sulfur limit to take place at MEPC 70
The MEPC agreed in principle to take a decision at MEPC 70 on the implementation date for the global 0.50 percent m/m sulfur cap for fuel oil, based on the outcome of a review which is due to be submitted to that session.
The MARPOL regulation limiting sulfur oxide emissions from ships provides for a 0.50 percent global cap to be implemented on January 1, 2020, but also requires a review of the availability of the required fuel oil to be carried out and concluded by 2018. Depending on the outcome of the review, the implementation date could be deferred to January 1, 2025.
A Steering Committee consisting of 13 Member States, one intergovernmental organization and six international non-governmental organizations is overseeing the review.
“Port reception facilities – How to do it” approved
An updated version of the manual “Port reception facilities – How to do it” was approved.