The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) met for its 66th session from 31 March to 4 April 2014, at IMO Headquarters in London.
The Committee adopted amendments to the MARPOL Convention to set a date for the implementation of “Tier III” standards within emission control areas (ECAs) and to make the IMO Member State Audit Scheme mandatory; reviewed environmental provisions in the draft Polar Code and associated draft amendments to make the Code mandatory, and discussed the implementation of energy-efficiency regulations and the Ballast Water Management and Ship Recycling Conventions.
Amendment on implementation date for Tier III adopted
The MEPC adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, regulation 13, on Nitrogen Oxides (NOX), concerning the date for the implementation of “Tier III” standards within emission control areas (ECAs).
The amendments provide for the Tier III NOx standards to be applied to a marine diesel engine that is installed on a ship constructed on or after 1 January 2016 and which operates in the North American Emission Control Area or the U.S. Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area that are designated for the control of NOx emissions.
In addition, the Tier III requirements would apply to installed marine diesel engines when operated in other emission control areas which might be designated in the future for Tier III NOx control. Tier III would apply to ships constructed on or after the date of adoption by the Marine Environment Protection Committee of such an emission control area, or a later date as may be specified in the amendment designating the NOx Tier III emission control area.
Further, the Tier III requirements do not apply to a marine diesel engine installed on a ship constructed prior to 1 January 2021 of less than 500 gross tonnage, of 24 m or over in length, which has been specifically designed and is used solely, for recreational purposes.
The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 September 2015.
NOX control requirements apply to installed marine diesel engines of over 130 kW output power, and different levels (Tiers) of control apply based on the ship construction date. Outside emission control areas designated for NOx control, “Tier II” controls, required for marine diesel engines installed on ships constructed on or after 1 January 2011, apply.
Amendments to MARPOL to make auditing mandatory adopted
The MEPC adopted amendments to MARPOL Annexes I through to VI to make the use of the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code) mandatory. The amendments add definitions and regulations relating to “verification of compliance”, thereby making the IMO Audit Scheme mandatory under MARPOL.
The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2016.
The III Code was adopted by the IMO Assembly in 2013. Similar amendments to other IMO treaties are also in the process of being adopted, to make the Audit Scheme mandatory once the relevant amendments enter into force in 2016.
Other amendments adopted
The MEPC also adopted:
• Amendments to 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 a stability instrument for oil tankers and chemical tankers, expected to enter into force on 1 January 2016;
• Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI concerning the extension of the application of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) to LNG carriers, ro-ro cargo ships (vehicle carriers), ro-ro cargo ships, ro-ro passenger ships and cruise passenger ships with non-conventional propulsion; and to exempt of ships not propelled by mechanical means and independently operating cargo ships with ice-breaking capability, expected to enter into force on 1 September 2015.
Draft Polar Code environmental provisions reviewed
The MEPC reviewed the environmental requirements under the proposed draft mandatory International Code for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code). It also considered the proposed draft amendments to MARPOL to make the Polar Code mandatory.
A correspondence group was established, to finalize the draft MARPOL amendments and the environmental requirements and to report to the next session (MEPC 67) in October 2014. The MEPC also agreed to request the IMO Council to approve the holding of an intersessional working group ahead of MEPC 67.
The draft Polar Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles. Environmental provisions include requirements covering prevention of oil pollution; prevention of pollution from noxious liquid substances from ships; prevention of pollution by sewage from ships; and prevention of pollution by discharge of garbage from ships.
Energy-efficiency measures for ships considered
The MEPC continued its work on further developing guidelines to support the uniform implementation of the regulations on energy-efficiency for ships that entered into force on 1 January 2013, and adopted the 2014 Guidelines on the Method of Calculation of the Attained Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), applicable to new ships.
Technical co-operation and technology transfer discussed
The MEPC discussed the implementation of resolution MEPC.229(65) on Promotion of Technical Co-operation and Transfer of Technology Relating to the Improvement of Energy Efficiency of Ships, welcoming the financial contribution from Norway for the organization of workshops on the transfer of technology.
The Ad Hoc Expert Working Group on Facilitation of Transfer of Technology for Ships, established in accordance with the resolution, met during the session and agreed a work plan, which was endorsed by the Committee. The work plan envisages: assessing the potential implications and impacts of the implementation of the energy efficiency regulations in chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI, in particular, on developing States, as a means to identify their technology transfer and financial needs; identifying and creating an inventory of energy efficiency technologies for ships; identifying barriers to transfer of technology, in particular to developing States, including associated costs, and possible sources of funding; and making recommendations, including the development of a model agreement enabling the transfer of financial and technological resources and capacity building between Parties, for the implementation of the energy efficiency regulations.
Data collection system for fuel consumption of ships discussed
The MEPC discussed various submissions relating to proposals to establish a framework for the collection and reporting of data on the fuel consumption of ships. It agreed to establish a correspondence group, to consider the development of a data collection system for ships, including identification of the core elements of such a system.
The group will report to the next session of the Committee.
NOX Technical Code guidelines adopted
The MEPC adopted amendments to the NOx Technical Code, 2008, concerning the use of dual-fuel engines.
The MEPC also adopted the 2014 Guidelines in respect of the information to be submitted by an Administration to the Organization covering the certification of an Approved Method as required under regulation 13.7.1 of MARPOL Annex VI (relating to “Marine Diesel Engines Installed on a Ship Constructed Prior to 1 January 2000”); and the 2014 Guidelines on the Approved Method process, which apply to new Approved Methods notified to IMO only.
The MEPC also approved draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI regarding engines solely fuelled by gaseous fuels, to clarify that such engines should also be covered by the Annex VI NOx regulations, with a view to adoption at MEPC 67. It also invited interested delegations to submit proposals for draft amendments to the NOx Technical Code for inclusion of provisions on engines solely fuelled by gaseous fuels, including any consequential amendments, for consideration by MEPC 67, with a view to approval.
2014 shipboard incineration standard adopted
The MEPC adopted the 2014 standard specification for shipboard incinerators, which covers the design, manufacture, performance, operation and testing of incinerators intended to incinerate garbage and other shipboard wastes generated during the ship's normal service. The specification applies to incinerator plants with capacities up to 4,000 kW per unit.
Sulphur review correspondence group established
The MEPC considered the timing of the review, required under MARPOL Annex VI, regulation 14.8, on control of emissions of sulphur oxides (SOX) from ships, on the availability of compliant fuel oil to meet the requirements set out in the regulation. The Committee agreed to establish a correspondence group to develop the methodology to determine the availability of fuel oil to comply with the fuel oil standard set out in regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI. The group would provide a progress report to MEPC 67, with a view to the Committee adopting the terms of reference of the study at MEPC 68 in 2015.
The sulphur content (expressed in terms of % m/m – that is, by weight) of fuel oil used on board ships 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.
Ballast water management systems approved
The MEPC granted Basic Approval to four, and Final Approval to two ballast water management systems that make use of Active Substances.
The MEPC also approved BWM-related guidance, including Guidance on entry or re-entry of ships into exclusive operation within water under the jurisdiction of a single Party and a revision of the GESAMP-BWWG Methodology for information gathering and conduct of work. In addition, the Committee requested the Secretariat to explore the possibility of conducting a study on the implementation of the ballast water performance standard described in regulation D-2 of the BWM Convention, with the aim to address a number of industry concerns, including proposals to amend the Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8).
On the status of the of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004, the MEPC noted that the number of Contracting Governments was currently 38, representing 30.38% of the world's merchant fleet tonnage (35% is needed to meet entry into force requirements), and urged those States which have not yet ratified the Convention to do so at the earliest possible opportunity.
Ship recycling convention implementation reviewed
The MEPC considered the report of a correspondence group tasked with developing threshold values and exemptions applicable to the materials to be listed in Inventories of Hazardous Materials, required under the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009, and agreed further work was needed.
The correspondence group was re-established to finalize the development of threshold values, exemptions and bulk listings applicable to the materials to be listed in Inventories of Hazardous Materials.
Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise approved
The MEPC approved Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping to address adverse impacts on marine life, recognizing that underwater noise radiating from commercial ships may have both short- and long-term negative consequences on marine life.
Guidance for port reception facility providers and users agreed
The MEPC approved consolidated guidance for port reception facility providers and users.