Ballast water in spotlight

Mar 31 2014

Ahead of this week’s MEPC meeting, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has suggested a number of ways that the IMO could address the ballast water treatment implementation problems.

As previously highlighted in a submission to the MEPC, made by ICS in conjunction with other international shipowner organisations, these problems are perceived to be a lack of robustness of the current IMO type-approval process for new treatment equipment and the criteria to be used for sampling ballast water during Port State Control (PSC) inspections. 

ICS said that it believed the legal changes needed to make the ballast regime fit for purpose are relatively straight forward and could be agreed in principle quickly by IMO member states. Therefore, the ICS suggested that the MEPC might agree a ‘road map’ by way of an MEPC resolution, which - if agreed - could make it easier for additional flag states to ratify the Convention. 

“If so decided, this resolution would provide greater confidence for owners and operators installing treatment equipment, and could help end the current impasse.” said ICS secretary general, Peter Hinchliffe. 

The new ICS position paper has been circulated to maritime administrations by the chamber’s member national shipowners’ associations.

In another move, the ICS has come out in support of a CO2 global reporting system, provided that the mechanism is simple to administer, is primarily based on fuel consumption and that the system itself will not be used for the development of a full blown market based measure.

The ICS has made a detailed submission on the issue to the MEPC saying that it supported the ‘three phase’ approach to the development of a global system proposed by the US. 

MEPC meets for its 66th session this week and among the items on the agenda are the consideration of proposed amendments to the MARPOL to make the audit scheme mandatory; a review of environmental provisions in the draft Polar Code and associated draft amendments to make the Code mandatory and the implementation of energy-efficiency regulations, plus the Ballast Water Management and Ship Recycling Conventions.

Other items on the agenda include a draft amendment on the Tier III implementation date, which will be considered for adoption. This could move the implementation date to 1st January 2021 from 1st January, 2016 if adopted.

Another draft amendment to be considered for adoption is for MARPOL Annex I, the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying. Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (BCH Code) and the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), on mandatory carriage requirements for stability instrument for oil tankers and chemical tankers, plus draft amendments to MARPOL Annex V to update the Record of Garbage Discharge.

In perhaps its most important meeting to date, MEPC will also look at the adoption, draft amendments to the NOx Technical Code, 2008, concerning the use of dual-fuel engines.

Another very important consideration is the timing of the required sulphur review. Depending on the outcome of a review to be completed by 2018 as to the availability of low sulphur compliant fuel oil, the drop in the sulphur cap to 0.1% could be deferred to 1st January 2025, from 2020.

Finally, the MEPC will consider draft ‘Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping’, aimed at addressing underwater-radiated noise from vessels, which may have both short- and long-term negative consequences on marine life.

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