The 64th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) was held at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) headquarters in London in October 2012. This newsletter covers selected highlights.
HARMFUL AQUATIC ORGANISMS IN BALLAST WATER
Despite concerns raised by some industry representatives, the MEPC concluded that there are enough ballast water treatment systems on the market, with 28 systems already type approved. The MEPC recognised that there may be grounds for concern regarding the feasibility of existing implementation dates and tasked a correspondence group to look into ways of easing the process within the framework of the already agreed entry into force dates. Currently, 29% of the world’s gross tonnage has ratified the Ballast Water Management Convention, with a threshold value of 35% for entry into force.
Survey and Certification Guidelines and the Inspection Guidelines required by the Hong Kong Convention have been developed. The issues of threshold levels and exemptions were not concluded. At present, no countries have ratified the Convention, leaving entry into force a distant prospect.
AIR POLLUTION AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY
A proposal for a preliminary study to provide low sulphur fuel availability scenarios for the 2015-2016 period received insufficient support from the MEPC. Such a study will still be performed by 2018, for the MEPC to use when deciding whether the global low sulphur requirements are to enter into force in 2020 or 2025. The Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) were both subject to a number of technical adjustments and clarifications, but no major changes were made. The work plan for further EEDI development also remains unchanged, meaning that MEPC 65 is expected to decide on the inclusion of additional ship types in the EEDI framework.
REDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS (GHG) EMISSIONS FROM SHIPS
The main bone of political contention during the session was an unsuccessful attempt to agree on a resolution text covering technology transfer from developed to developing countries. This issue will be considered further at MEPC 65. The Committee agreed on the need for an updated GHG study, and accordingly the Secretariat will organise a scoping workshop early next year provided donor financing is forthcoming.
■■ Amendments to the IBC Code were adopted subject to adoption by MSC 91 in November 2012.
■■ As stated in the 2012 Guidelines for the Implementation of MARPOL Annex V, solid bulk cargoes should be classified and declared by the shipper as to whether or not they are harmful to the marine environment.
■■ The MEPC approved the establishment of the Saba Bank as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area and established an Area To Be Avoided (ATBA) by ships of 300 gross tonnage or over and a mandatory ‘No Anchoring Area’ for all ships.
■■ The Committee approved the proposed amendments to the 2011 Guidelines for the Carriage of Blends of Petroleum Oil and Biofuels. A revised MEPC.1/ Circ.761 will be issued accordingly. The next Committee meeting (MEPC 65) will take place on 13-17 May 2013.