The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) meets for its 68th session from 11 to 15 May 2015, at IMO Headquarters in London.
Items on the agenda include the proposed adoption of the environmental part of the Polar Code and associated draft MARPOL amendments to make the Code mandatory; the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention; further work on air pollution and energy efficiency measures; and a proposal to extend the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) to parts of the Coral Sea.
Polar Code environmental provisions set for adoption
The MEPC is expected to adopt the environmental requirements of the mandatory International Code for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code), and the associated MARPOL amendments to make the Code mandatory. This follows the adoption, by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in December 2014 of the Polar Code and related amendments to make it mandatory under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The Polar Code is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2017.
The Polar Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in waters surrounding the two poles.
Draft environmental provisions cover:
- Prevention of pollution by oil: discharge into the sea of oil or oily mixtures from any ship is prohibited. Oil fuel tanks must be separated from outer shell;
- Prevention of pollution by noxious liquid substances: discharge into the sea of noxious liquid substances, or mixtures containing such substances is prohibited;
- Prevention of pollution by sewage; discharge of sewage is prohibited unless performed in line with MARPOL Annex IV and requirements in the Polar Code; and
- Prevention of pollution by garbage: discharge of garbage is restricted and only permitted in accordance with MARPOL Annex V and requirements in the Polar Code
The adoption of the Polar Code and associated MARPOL amendments at MEPC 68 will complete the process to make the Code mandatory under both the SOLAS and MARPOL treaties.
MARPOL Annex I amendments relating to oil residues set for adoption
The MEPC will consider, with a view to adoption, draft amendments to regulation 12 of MARPOL Annex I, concerning tanks for oil residues (sludge).
The draft amendments update and revise the regulation, expanding on the requirements for discharge connections and piping to ensure oil residues are properly disposed of. A related revised unified interpretation to the regulation will also be put forward for adoption.
Ballast water management status and technologies to be reviewed
The MEPC will review the status of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention), 2004, which is close to receiving sufficient ratifications to meet the entry into force (tonnage) criterion. The number of Contracting Governments is currently 44, representing 32.86% of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage. The BWM Convention will enter into force 12 months after the date on which not fewer than 30 States, the combined merchant fleets of which constitute not less than 35% of the world’s gross tonnage, have ratified it.
The MEPC is expected to follow up the resolution adopted by MEPC 67 on Measures to be taken to facilitate entry into force of the BWM Convention, including the agreed review of the Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8), by considering the report of the Correspondence Group on the review of the Guidelines. The MEPC is expected to decide on the way forward.
The Committee will receive a progress report on a study, initiated by MEPC 67, on the implementation of the ballast water performance standard described in regulation D-2 of the BWM Convention. The study is being executed by the IMO Secretariat in partnership with the World Maritime University (WMU), and an online survey has been launched (See Briefing 08/2015). The final study report is to be submitted to MEPC 69, scheduled for early 2016.
The Committee will also consider a proposal to amend the BWM Convention to reflect Assembly resolution A.1088(28) on application of the Convention; and is expected to continue its discussions on regulations A-3 (Exceptions) and A-4 (Exemptions) of the Convention, with a view to clarifying their application.
Further ballast water management systems that make use of active substances will be considered for Basic Approval (six systems) and Final Approval (two systems), when the MEPC considers the reports of the 30th and 31st meetings of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment Protection (GESAMP) Ballast Water Working Group.
Further development of energy-efficiency guidelines for ships to be considered
The MEPC is expected to continue its work on further developing guidelines to assist in the implementation of the mandatory energy-efficiency regulations for international shipping.
Work during the session will include consideration of draft amendments to:
- the 2014 Guidelines on survey and certification of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI);
- the 2013 Interim Guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions; and
- the 2014 Guidelines on the method of calculation of the attained EEDI for new ships.
EEDI Review and Technology Transfer
The Committee will consider a progress report from the correspondence group established to review the status of technological developments relevant to implementing phase 2 of the EEDI regulations, as required under regulation 21.6 of MARPOL Annex VI.
It will also receive a progress report from the Ad Hoc Expert Working Group on Facilitation of Transfer of Technology for Ships.
Data collection system for fuel consumption
The MEPC will consider the report of a correspondence group established to develop draft text for a data collection system for fuel consumption of ships that can be used for voluntary or mandatory application of the system.
Revised air pollution guidance and requirements to be considered
The MEPC will consider a number of amendments and revisions to existing guidance and requirements related to air pollution measures, including:
- draft amendments to the 2009 Guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems (resolution MEPC.184(59));
- draft amendments to the NOX Technical Code 2008 to facilitate the testing of gas-fuelled engines and dual fuel engines for NOx Tier III strategy;
- draft Guidance on the application of regulation 13 of MARPOL Annex VI Tier III requirements to dual fuel and gas-fuelled engines; and
- draft amendments to the 2011 Guidelines addressing additional aspects to the NOX Technical Code 2008 with regard to particular requirements related to marine diesel engines fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) Systems (resolution MEPC.198(62)).
Sulphur review methodology to be considered
The MEPC will consider the final report of the correspondence group developing the methodology and terms of reference for the review, required under MARPOL Annex VI, regulation 14 (Sulphur Oxides (SOx) and Particulate Matter), of the availability of compliant fuel oil to meet the requirements set out in the regulation.
The sulphur content (expressed in terms of % m/m – that is, by weight) of fuel oil used on board ships is required to be a maximum of 3.50% m/m (outside an Emission Control Area (ECA)), falling to 0.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2020. Depending on the outcome of the review, this requirement could be deferred to 1 January 2025.
Within ECAs, fuel oil sulphur content must be no more than 0.10% m/m.
Fuel oil quality
The MEPC will consider the report of the correspondence group established to consider possible quality control measures prior to fuel oil being delivered to a ship.
Black carbon definition to be considered
The MEPC will consider a definition for Black Carbon emissions from international shipping, as recommended by the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR), at its second session.
Status of UN climate change negotiations
The MEPC is expected to receive an update from the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the status of global climate change negotiations ahead of the climate change conference (COP 21) in Paris, France (December 2015).
Extension of Great Barrier Reef PSSA to be considered
The MEPC will consider a proposal, submitted by Australia, to extend the eastern limit of the current Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) to encompass the south west part of the Coral Sea, part of Australia’s Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR), a remote ocean ecosystem which provides refuge for a wide range of threatened, migratory and commercially valuable species.
The submission includes proposed associated protective measures in the form of new shipping routes, aimed at reducing the risk of ship collisions and groundings by separating opposing traffic streams, whilst ensuring ships keep clear of reefs, shoals and islets. The new shipping routes were agreed by IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) in March, for submission to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) for adoption.
Ship recycling convention – revision of IHM Guidelines
The MEPC is expected to consider and adopt the 2015 Guidelines for the development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM), developed by PPR 2, which was tasked with developing threshold values, exemptions and bulk listings applicable to the materials to be listed in the IHM, required under the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.
Oil spill response guidance to be considered
The MEPC will consider, for approval, two sets of guidelines finalized by PPR 2 to assist in oil spill response:
Guidelines on international offers of assistance in response to a marine oil pollution incident – intended as a tool to assist in managing requests for spill response resources and offers for assistance from other countries and organizations when confronted with large, complex or significant oil spill incidents.
Guidelines for the use of dispersants for combating oil pollution at sea – Part III (Operational and technical sheets for surface application of dispersants). Parts I (Basic information) and II (National policy) of the IMO Dispersant Guidelines have already been approved and will be issued in conjunction with Part III, subsequent to its approval. Part IV, covering sub-sea dispersant application, is under development and will take into account the experience gained from the Deepwater Horizon incident as well as other related technical developments.