IMO MEPC 71 report

Jul 14 2017


At MEPC 71 last week, the ballast water management schedule was clarified, GHG and air pollution issues progressed, new NOx emission control areas agreed, a further Particularly Sensitive Sea Area was designated and work to implement the 0.5% global sulphur limit was agreed.

Starting with the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC), the MEPC agreed what it deemed a a practical and pragmatic implementation schedule for ships to comply with the convention.

The treaty enters into force on 8th September, 2017 and has been ratified by 61 countries, representing 68.46% of world merchant shipping tonnage.

From that date all ships will be required to have a ballast water management plan and keep a ballast water record book. They will be required to manage their ballast water to meet the so-called D-1 standard or D-2 standard.

The D-2 standard requires BWM to restrict to a specified maximum the amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged and to limit the discharge of specified indicator microbes harmful to human health.

Draft amendments to the treaty approved by the MEPC clarify when ships must comply with the requirement to meet the D-2 standard. This standard requires BWM to restrict to a specified maximum the amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged and to limit the discharge of specified indicator microbes harmful to human health.

The amendments will be circulated after the convention’s entry into force for possible adoption at MEPC 72 in April, 2018. 

Under the approved amendments, ships built on or after 8th September, 2017, shall conduct ballast water management that at least meets the D-2 standard from the date they are put into service.

For existing ships, constructed before the enforcement date, the compliance date with the D-2 standard is linked with MARPOL Annex 1’s International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPP) renewal survey. For existing ships this would be the first or second five-year renewal survey after 8th September, 2017.

An existing ship to which the IOPP renewal survey does not apply shall meet the D-2 standard from the date decided by the administration, but not later than 8th September, 2024.

 In other work focusing on implementation of the BWM treaty, the MEPC, inter alia:

  • Adopted the 2017 Guidelines for ballast water exchange (G6);
  • Adopted the 2017 Guidelines for risk assessment under regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention (G7);
  • Adopted an MEPC resolution on ‘The experience-building phase associated with the BWMC’;
  • Approved the Code for approval of BWMS, and approved draft amendments to the BWMC  to make the Code mandatory, for adoption at the next session;
  • Approved amendments to section E (survey and certification) of the BWMC, also for adoption at MEPC 72;
  • Approved a manual on ‘Ballast Water Management - How to do it’;
  • Approved Guidance on contingency measures under the BWMC;
  • Approved a circular on application of the BWMC to ships operating in sea areas where ballast water exchange in accordance with regulations B-4.1 and D-1 is not possible;
  • Granted final approval to one and basic approval to two BWMS that makes use of active substances.

MEPC also agreed the scope of work needed to achieve consistent implementation of the 0.5% m/m global limit of the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil, which will come into effect from 1st January, 2020.

The sub-committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) has been instructed to explore what actions may be taken to ensure consistent and effective implementation of the sulphur limit for fuel oil used by ships operating outside designated SOX ECAs and/or not making use of equivalent means, such as exhaust gas cleaning systems, may facilitate the implementation of effective policies by IMO member states.

To ensure this work is completed by 2020, the MEPC approved (subject to endorsement by the IMO Council) the holding of an inter-sessional working group meeting in the second half of 2018. 

In other work related to air pollution matters, the MEPC:

  • Adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to designate the North Sea and the Baltic Sea as ECAs for NOx under regulation 13 of MARPOL Annex VI.  Both ECAs will take effect on 1st January, 2021;
  • Adopted amendments to the information to be included in the bunker delivery note relating to the supply of marine fuel oil to ships which have fitted alternative mechanisms to address sulphur emission requirements;
  • Adopted the 2017 Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system Guidelines.

The MEPC continued to build on the work undertaken to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping, with work on track for the adoption of an initial IMO strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships in 2018, in accordance with a roadmap approved at MEPC 70.

There was an agreement within a working group on a draft outline for the structure of the initial IMO strategy. The group met following a week-long meeting of the Inter-sessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (26th-30th June), which reported on its detailed discussions.

In addition to further considering how to progress the GHG reduction from ships and advise the committee as appropriate, the second inter-sessional meeting (ISWG-GHG 2, 23rd-27th October, 2017) has been instructed to further develop the structure and identify core elements of the draft initial IMO strategy and develop draft text for inclusion in the initial strategy, with submissions due by 22nd September, 2017.

The third inter-sessional meeting (ISWG-GHG 3, 3rd-6th April, 2018) has been instructed, on the basis of the work of GHG 2, to finalise the draft initial IMO strategy and submit a report to MEPC 72.

As for the energy-efficiency design standards for new ships and associated operational energy-efficiency measures for existing ships, which became mandatory in 2013, the committee was informed that nearly 2,500 new ocean-going ships have been certified as complying with the energy efficiency standards.

In other work related to the implementation of the mandatory energy efficiency measures in MARPOL Annex VI, the MEPC:

  • Adopted 2017 Guidelines for Administration verification of ship fuel oil consumption data, to support the implementation of the mandatory MARPOL requirements for ships of 5,000 gt and above to collect consumption data for each type of fuel oil they use, as well as additional specified data, including proxies for transport work, from calendar year 2019;
  • Adopted 2017 Guidelines for the development and management of the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database;
  • Approved an MEPC circular on submission of data to the IMO data collection system for fuel oil consumption of ships from a state not party to MARPOL Annex VI;
  • Established a correspondence group on review of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) beyond phase 2, to report on progress by MEPC 72 and make a recommendation to MEPC 73 on the time period and reduction rates for EEDI phase 3 requirements. 

In addition, the meeting agreed to add a new output in its work programme on the development of measures to reduce risks of use and carriage of HFO in Arctic waters. This new output will appear on the agenda for MEPC 72.

Member Governments and international organisations were asked to submit concrete proposals on what type of measures should be developed, including the scope of the work, to MEPC 72, so that clear instructions can be given to the PPR sub-committee, which will carry out the detailed technical work, starting at PPR 6.

HFO use and carriage is banned in Antarctic waters under MARPOL and the IMO Polar Code recommends that states follow the same practice in the Arctic.

MEPC also approved the final designation of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, located in the Sulu Sea, Philippines as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA), which brings the number of marine areas protected to 15 (plus two extensions).  



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