The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) meets for its 64th session from 1 to 5 October 2012, at IMO Headquarters in London.
As well as discussing matters relating to the implementation of energy-efficiency, ballast water management and ship-recycling regulations, the MEPC will also consider formally designating the Saba Bank, in the North-eastern Caribbean area of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA).
Work to continue on energy-efficiency measures for ships
The MEPC is expected to continue its work on further developing technical and operational measures relating to energy-efficiency measures for ships, based on a work plan agreed at the last session. This follows the adoption of the new chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI, which enters into force on 1 January 2013 and includes new requirements mandating the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships.
This work will include the development of guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power and speed to enable safe manoeuvring in adverse weather conditions and the development of EEDI frameworks for ships not covered by the current EEDI, e.g., ro-ro and cruise passenger ships, and ships with non-conventional propulsion systems, e.g., diesel-electric or turbine propulsion. This work is expected to continue at this session, based on submissions received.
Technical cooperation for the implementation of mandatory energy-efficiency measures
Regulation 23 of chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI on Promotion of technical co-operation and transfer of technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships requires Administrations, in co-operation with the Organization and other international bodies, to promote and provide, as appropriate, support directly or through IMO to States, especially developing States, that request technical assistance. It also requires the Administration of a Party to MARPOL Annex VI to co-operate actively with other Parties, subject to its national laws, regulations and policies, to promote the development and transfer of technology and exchange of information to States which request technical assistance, particularly developing States.
The MEPC will further consider a draft MEPC resolution on promotion of technical co-operation and transfer of technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships. The resolution is intended to provide a framework aimed at promoting and facilitating technology transfer, to support the implementation of the new regulations on energy efficiency for ships.
Market-based measures to address the reduction of GHGs under discussion
The MEPC is expected to continue its consideration of proposed market-based measures (MBMs) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which would complement the technical and operational measures already adopted.
It is anticipated that the discussions at MEPC will focus on an update of the GHG emissions’ estimate for international shipping and the methodology and criteria for a comprehensive impact assessment of the MBM proposals (following earlier, initial impact assessments), with a view to studying in detail the direct and indirect impacts on (consumers and industries in) developing countries of the introduction, and non-introduction, of an MBM for international shipping under the auspices of IMO.
Availability of fuel oil to meet air pollution requirements to be considered
The MEPC will further consider matters relating to the availability of fuel oil to meet the requirements set out in the MARPOL Annex VI regulation on emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx) from ships.
Fuel oil sulphur content (expressed in terms of % m/m – that is, by weight) 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.
The MEPC is expected to consider the start date for this review.
It should be noted that, within ECAs, fuel oil sulphur content (expressed in terms of % m/m – that is, by weight) must be no more than 1.00% m/m; falling to 0.10% m/m on and after 1 January 2015.
Ballast water management systems up for approval
The MEPC will consider the reports of the twenty-first, twenty-second and twenty-third meetings of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment Protection (GESAMP) Ballast Water Working Group (held during 2012), with a view to granting basic approval to five, and final approval to three, ballast water management systems that make use of active substances.
The MEPC is expected to reiterate the need for those countries that have not yet done so to ratify the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004, to achieve its entry into force at the earliest opportunity. To date, 36 States, with an aggregate merchant shipping tonnage of 29.07 per cent of the world total, have ratified the Convention. The Convention will enter into force twelve months after the date on which not fewer than 30 States, the combined merchant fleets of which constitute not less than 35 per cent of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping, have become Parties to it.
The Committee will also consider a number of proposals related to the practical implementation of the Convention, aimed at harmonizing the type-approval and sampling procedures, and eliminating uncertainties with regard to compliance and preventing the possibility of improperly penalizing ships’ crew members.
Specific proposals related to highly specialized ships will also be examined by the MEPC, with a view to developing specific guidance for offshore support vessels and mobile offshore units, in anticipation of the entry into force of the BWM Convention.
Recycling of ships - guidelines to be considered
The MEPC is expected to consider draft Guidelines for Survey and Certification of Ships under the Hong Kong Convention (Survey and Certification Guidelines) and Guidelines for Inspection of Ships under the Hong Kong Convention (Inspection Guidelines), which have been further developed by the intersessional correspondence group on Ship-Recycling Guidelines.
These guidelines, along with other guidelines already adopted, are intended to assist ship-recycling facilities and shipping companies to commence introducing voluntary improvements to meet the requirements of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, which was adopted in May 2009. The treaty will enter into force 24 months after ratification by 15 States, representing 40 per cent of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, and combined maximum annual ship-recycling volume not less than 3 per cent of their combined tonnage. Efforts are being made to encourage Member Governments to ratify the Hong Kong Convention at their earliest convenience.
Saba Bank PSSA designation to be considered
The MEPC will consider formally designating the Saba Bank, in the North-eastern Caribbean area of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA), following approval in principle at the last session.
Associated Protective Measures were approved by the Sub Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV), at its meeting in July 2012, namely, the establishment of a new mandatory ‘no anchoring’ area for all ships and a new ‘area to be avoided’ (for ships of 300 gross tonnage or over) in the proposed PSSA.
Amendments to the IBC Code set for adoption
The MEPC will consider, for adoption, draft amendments to chapters 17, 18 and 19 of the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), which have been already been approved for adoption by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 90).
Sewage treatment plant guideline set for adoption
The MEPC is expected to consider for adoption draft 2012 Guidelines on implementation of effluent standards and performance tests for sewage treatment plants, which are intended to provide guidance on the implementation of new requirements (coming into effect from 1 January 2016) for sewage treatment plants installed on passenger ships operating in MARPOL Annex IV special areas.
Mandatory audit scheme: approval of draft III Code and MARPOL amendments expected
The MEPC is expected to approve the draft IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code), which sets the standard for the IMO audit scheme, and to approve draft amendments to MARPOL to make the III Code and auditing mandatory under that treaty.
The aim is to adopt the MARPOL amendments in 2014, once the III Code has been formally adopted by the IMO Assembly, in 2013.
Recognized organizations code to be approved
The MEPC is expected to approve the draft Code for Recognized Organizations (ROs) and related draft amendments to MARPOL (Annexes I and II) to make it mandatory, for adoption at a future session.
The Code will provide a consolidated text containing criteria against which ROs (which may be authorized by flag States to carry out surveys and issue certificates on their behalf) are assessed and authorized/recognized, and give guidance for subsequent monitoring of ROs by Administrations.