Home Environment Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 64th session, 1 to 5 October 2012

Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 64th session, 1 to 5 October 2012

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Saba Bank designatedParticularly Sensitive Sea AreabyIMOMarine Environment Protection Committee

TheSaba Bank, in the north-eastern Caribbeanareaof the Kingdom of the Netherlands, was formally designatedas a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area(PSSA) by theMarine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), when it met for its 64th session from 1 to 5 October 2012, at IMO Headquarters in London.

The MEPC also discussed matters relating to energy-efficiency, ballast water management and ship-recycling.

Saba BankPSSA designated

The Saba Bank, in the north-eastern Caribbean area of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, was designated as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA), following approval, in principle, at the previous session.

Associated Protective Measures were approved by the Sub‑Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV), at its meeting in July 2012, namely, the establishment of a new mandatory ‘no anchoring’ area for all ships and a new ‘area to be avoided’ (for ships of 300 gross tonnage or over) in the proposed PSSA.

The Saba Bank is the thirteenth PSSA to be designated by IMO.

(List of PSSAs can be found here:


Work on energy-efficiency measures for ships

The MEPC continued its work on further developing technical and operational measures relating to energy-efficiency measures for ships, based on a work plan agreed at the previous session. This follows the adoption of the new chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI, which will enter into force on 1 January 2013 and includes new requirements mandatingthe Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships.

The MEPC adoptedamendments to the 2012 Guidelines on the method of calculation of the attained EEDI for new ships (resolution MEPC.212(63)), relating to the calculation of shaft-generator power and shaft-motor power.

The MEPC also approved an amendment to the 2012 Guidelines on survey and certification of the EEDI (resolution MEPC.214(63)), to update a footnote referring to International Towing Tank Conference (ITTC) Recommended Procedure 7.5-04-01-01.2 as the preferable standard.

The MEPC approved the following guidance and interpretations:

  • unified interpretation for the definition of “new ships” for phases 1, 2 and 3 of the EEDI framework under regulations 20.1 and 21.1 of MARPOL Annex VI;
  • unified interpretation of the phrase “major conversion” under regulations 20.1 and 21.1 of MARPOL Annex VI;
  • unified interpretation on the timing for existing ships to have on board a SEEMP under regulations 5.44 and 22.1 of MARPOL Annex VI;
  • unified interpretation on the appropriate category to be applied for dedicated refrigerated fruit juice carriers;
  • (subject to concurrent decision by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 91)), the draft MEPC-MSC Circular for the interim guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions;
  • interim guidelines for the calculation of the coefficientfwfor decrease of ship speed in representative sea condition for trial use (the coefficient fw, contained in the EEDI, is a non-dimensional coefficient indicating the decrease in speed in a representative sea conditions of wave height, wave frequency and wind speed); and
  • unified interpretation for section 2.3 of the supplement to the IAPP certificate.

Anintersessional Correspondence Group on Energy-Efficiency Measures for Shipswas established to develop the draft guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to enable safe manoeuvring in adverse conditions; improve further the draft guidance on treatment of innovative energy-efficiency technologies; and review the interim guidelines for the calculation of the coefficientfwfor decrease of ship speed in representative sea conditions for trial use.

Technical cooperation and transfer of technology for theimplementation of mandatory energy-efficiency measures

Regulation 23 of chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI onPromotion of technical co-operation and transfer of technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships requires Administrations, in co-operation with the Organization and other international bodies, to promote and provide, as appropriate, support directly or through IMO to States, especially developing States, that request technical assistance. It also requires the Administration of a Party to MARPOL Annex VI to co-operate actively with other Parties, subject to its national laws, regulations and policies, to promote the development and transfer of technology and exchange of information to States which request technical assistance, particularly developing States.

A Working Group further developed a text of adraft resolution on Promotion of Technical Co-operation and Transfer of Technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships. Following discussion in the plenary session, the Committee agreed to use the text as a basis to finalizethedraft resolution, with a view to its adoption at MEPC 65 in May 2013.

Update on GHG emissions estimate endorsed

The MEPC, endorsed, in principle, the outline for an update of thegreenhouse gas (GHG) emissions estimate and agreed that an expert workshop should be held in 2013, to further consider the methodology and assumptions to be used in the update. The Committee called for donations to finance the expert workshop as well as the study.

An updated GHG inventory is considered necessary as the current estimate, contained in the Second IMO GHG Study (2009), does not take account of the economic downturn experienced globally since 2008. The update would be a technical exercise, building on the methodology developed under the Second IMO GHG Study 2009 and based on available data on fleet composition and size as well as on other technical ship-particular data. The inventory would include current global emissions of GHGs and relevant substances emitted from ships of 100 GT and above, engaged in international transport.

MBM discussions to continue at MEPC 65

The MEPC received updates to several of the proposed market-based measures (MBMs) to reduce GHG emissions, which would complement the technical and operational measures already adopted. However, in view of time constraints at the current session, the MEPC agreed to postpone detailed debate on MBMs to MEPC 65.

This would include discussion of the methodology and criteria for a comprehensive impact assessment, which would study in detail the direct and indirect impacts on (consumers and industries in) developing countries of the introduction, or non-introduction, of an MBM for international shipping, under the auspices of IMO.

Study on fuel oil availability to meet air pollution requirements to be considered in 2014

The MEPC discussed proposals related to a review on theavailability of compliant fuel oil to meet the requirements set out in the MARPOL Annex VI regulation 14 on emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx) from ships,

Fuel oil sulphur content (expressed in terms of % m/m – that is, by weight) 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 a review, to be completed by 2018, as to the availability of compliant fuel oil, this requirement could be deferred to 1 January 2025.

It should be noted that, within ECAs, fuel oil sulphur content (expressed in terms of % m/m:  that is, by weight) must be no more than 1.00% m/m; falling to 0.10% m/m on and after 1 January 2015.

The MEPC noted that, in 2011, the average sulphur content of residual fuel worldwide was 2.65% m/m. Fordistillate fuel the average sulphur content was 0.14%, based on the monitoring of the worldwide average sulphur content of marine fuel oils supplied for use on board ship.

The Committee agreed to revisit the matter of a review at a future session, and invited relevant submissions to MEPC 66 (in 2014).

Ballast water management systems approved

The MEPC considered  the reports of thetwenty-first, twenty-second and twenty-third meetingsof the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment Protection (GESAMP) Ballast Water Working Group (held during 2012), and granted basic approval to five, and final approval to three, ballast water management systems that make use of Active Substances.

The MEPC noted that there are now 28 type-approved ballast water management systems available.

The MEPCurged those States, which have not yet done so, to ratifythe International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM), 2004, to achieve its entry into force at the earliest opportunity. To date, 36States, with an aggregate merchant shipping tonnage of 29.07 per cent 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 delegations of Argentina, Belgium and Germany indicated that the process of ratifying the Convention is in a final or advanced stage in their countries and they would submit their instruments of ratification to IMO in the near future.

Following discussion in the Ballast Water Review Group (BWRG), the Committee agreed that appropriate technologies are available to achieve the standard contained in regulation D-2[1] of the BWM Convention. It requested, however, delegations to submit case studies including quantitative data and information to document problems with the supply, operation and suitability of type approved ballast water management systems to the Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG), to facilitate more informed analysis of these aspects if appropriate.

The MEPC also addressed a number of issues relating to implementation of the BWM Convention.

Itapproved a circular on issuance of Ballast Water Management Certificates during the 12-month period between the conditions of entry into force being met and the actual date of entry into force of the BWM Convention. The circular addresses the concern that the Convention allows no phase-in period for ships constructed prior to the entry into force of the Convention by recommending that Administrations may allow the issuance of International Ballast Water Management Certificates for such ships prior to entry into force of the Convention. The Certificates should be  annotated to state that validity begins from the entry‑into‑force date, combined with a statement issued to the company when the BWM Plan was received, thereby allowing the vessel to trade for three months with an unapproved BWM Plan on board.

The MEPC instructed BLG 17, meeting in 2013, to consider updating resolution MEPC.175(58) on information reporting on type-approved systems. The resolution invites Member States to submit information to IMO on type-approved systems.

BLG 17 was also instructed to consider issues relating to monitoring and sampling of certain ballast water management systems.

The Committee also instructed a correspondence group to develop adraft IMO Assembly resolution on the implementation of regulation B-3 of the BWM Convention, with a view to approval by MEPC 65 and adoption by the 28th session of the Assembly in 2013. Regulation B-3 refers to specific dates for implementation of the BWM Convention, for ships constructed before 2009, between 2009 and 2012, and after 2012.

Recycling of ships – guidelines adopted

The MEPC adoptedthe 2012 Guidelines for the survey and certification of ships under the Hong Kong Convention and the2012 Guidelines for the inspection of ships under the Hong Kong Convention.

These two sets of guidelines, together with the four sets of other guidelines previously adopted, complete the development of all guidelines referred to in the text of the Hong Kong Convention. The guidelines that have been adopted by the Organization can now assist ship-recycling facilities and shipping companies to commence 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 force24 months after ratification by 15 States, representing 40 per cent of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, andcombined maximum annual ship-recycling volume not less than 3 per cent of their combined tonnage.

An intersessional correspondence group was established todevelop threshold values and exemptions applicable to the materials to be listed in Inventories of Hazardous Materials and consider the need to amend, accordingly, the2011 Guidelines for the Development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials.

The MEPC encouraged Member Governments to ratify the Hong Kong Convention at their earliest convenience.

Amendments to the IBC Code adopted

The MEPC adopted 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 had been already been approved for adoption by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 90).

Sewage treatment plant guideline adopted

The MEPC adopted the 2012Guidelines 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:draft III Code and MARPOL amendments approved

The MEPC approved the draft IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code), which sets the standard for the IMO audit scheme, and approveddraft 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 approved

The MEPC approved thedraft Code for Recognized Organizations (ROs) and related draft amendments to MARPOL (Annexes I and II) to make it mandatory, for adoption, concurrently with the MSC, 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.

IMO– the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

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