ICS waits on April MEPC meeting re BWM

Feb 14 2014

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has decided to ‘wait and see’ over the ratification of the controversial Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention.

In a message, the ICS said that it will continue to refrain from encouraging flag administrations that have not yet ratified the convention from making the additional ratifications required to bring about its immediate entry into force.

At its recent board meeting, the ICS agreed that governments should wait until outstanding implementation problems have been resolved at IMO, hopefully at the next MEPC meeting in April, at which ICS (in co-operation with other industry organisations) has proposed a way forward.

ICS chairman, Masamichi Morooka, explained: “In principle ICS fully supports the eventual entry into force of the convention and wants to make it work as soon as possible in order provide protection against invasive species. But the industry still has very serious concerns with respect to the lack of robustness of the current IMO type-approval standards for the very expensive new treatment equipment that will be required, as well about the criteria to be used for sampling ballast water during Port State Control inspections.

“Governments need to understand that the industry cannot support the immediate entry into force of a regime that will require billions of dollars of investment without any confidence that the new treatment equipment will actually work, or that it will comply with the standards that governments have set for killing unwanted marine micro-organisms. But we believe that the legal changes needed to make the ballast regime fit for purpose are relatively small and can be agreed in principle by governments quickly, ” he said.

Along with other organisations, the ICS has made a submission to the MEPC’s forthcoming meeting, which proposes making IMO Guidelines on type-approval of equipment mandatory.

In the meantime, the ICS said that it believed it would be unfortunate if the convention comes into force ‘by accident’ as result of further ratifications by governments before these outstanding problems have been properly addressed.

At the meeting, the ICS board also reiterated its support for the development by IMO of a global system for monitoring and reporting of ships’ CO2 emissions, 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.

Consistent with an ICS submission to the April meeting of MEPC, the ICS board confirmed its support for the ‘three phase’ approach to the development of a global system proposed by the US and now seemingly supported in a submission to IMO by EU member states.

Under the ‘three phase’ approach, the question of whether IMO should eventually develop a mandatory system of energy indexing for existing ships – to which ICS is opposed - would be left open until a mandatory CO2 emissions reporting system has been established.

Morooka said: “Our priority is to ensure the primacy of IMO as the industry’s global regulator and the successful development of a global system will require the support of all of the world’s major flag states. It is unfortunate that the debate has been complicated by the parallel proposal from the European Commission, now being considered by the European Parliament, for a unilateral regional system of CO2 reporting that is unlikely to be compatible with whatever will be agreed at IMO.”

The board agreed that it would be very helpful if EU member states could defer reaching agreement on any regional EU regulation until sometime after the next meeting of the MEPC at which ICS is optimistic that progress will be made on a global measure.

Turning to piracy, the board noted that Somali pirates remained active and retained the capacity to attack far into the Indian Ocean. The ICS therefore continued to emphasise that it was premature to conclude that the crisis is over, with seafarers still held hostage in Somalia, some of whom have now been in captivity for three years.

The security situation in West Africa also continued to be of great concern and the importance of ship operators adhering to the inter-industry guidance developed for ships trading in the Gulf of Guinea was also reiterated at the board meeting. 

Previous: FSU to be fitted with Wärtsilä pumping equipment

Next: Notice to mariners deficiencies

Jun-Jul 2024

Tanker Operator Athens report: managing crewing, training challenges, views on SIRE 2.0