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Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR), 1st session (closing remarks)

This text is an ad verbatim transcript

February 7, 2014

(3 to 7 February 2014)
I understand we are approaching the end of the session of PPR 1 and it is time to recognize the major achievements of the PPR Sub-Committee during this week.
First of all, the finalization of the work on the two sets of Guidelines concerning the implementation of regulation 13 “Nitrogen oxides” of MARPOL Annex VI, namely, the draft 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; and the draft 2014 Guidelines on the Approved Method process, which we have just approved.
In the context of implementation of the BWM Convention, the progress made on the development of the draft Guidance for stripping operations using eductors is an important development.
In the context of the work on evaluation of safety and pollution hazards of chemicals, eight new products and 25 cleaning additives have been evaluated with the assigned classification and carriage requirements; and the review of the safety guidelines used in chapter 21 of the IBC Code is progressing according to the agreed timeline.
We have made progress on the development of the code for the transport and handling of limited amounts of hazardous and noxious liquid substances in bulk on offshore support vessels (OSV Chemical Code), with parts of the draft code forwarded to other sub-committees for advice and input.
We have made progress on the consideration of the impact on the Arctic of emissions of Black Carbon from international shipping; and this matter still needs to be further debated at the Committee level. We have also achieved the smooth integration of work on the OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol into the framework of the Sub-Committee.
Those are the elements listed in my table as major achievements of this first session of this Sub-Committee. Those could not have been achieved without concerted efforts and cooperation. The significant element is of course the efficient conduct of the meeting by the Chairman. This is the time for us to express our appreciation and make a tribute to you, Mr. Oftedal of Norway, for your excellent chairmanship that, in my view, ensured the smooth running of the decision-making process of this Sub-Committee. My thanks also go to the Vice-Chairman of this Sub-Committee and also all Chairmen and leaders in the Working Groups and Drafting Groups.
This session was also the first session which was totally supported by the new arrangement. The Secretariat meeting support was fully under the responsibility of the Marine Environment Division, with total responsibility covered by Mr. Stefan Micallef, as Director of the Marine Environment Division, and I am sure you agree that he and his team provided the necessary support for the smooth running of this Sub-Committee meeting.
Having observed the first session, I noted the potential of this Sub-Committee, in dealing with the environment. The evaluation of hazards of chemicals by the ESPH Working Group was firmly established in the work of this Sub-Committee and also we have recognized the pollution preparedness and response. That work found a new home for further development at this Sub-Committee and there is the potential for providing a further function so that technical work on any pollution prevention issues could be covered under this Sub-Committee. Of course, the matter should be discussed at Committee level and decided by the MEPC. These are my observations after this first session of the Sub-Committee.
Taking this opportunity, Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, I just wanted to touch upon some sad news which I wanted to share with you. The matter is with regard to our strong supporter from Denmark, Mr. Jørgen Hammer Hansen, who passed away a week ago. He served as Director General for the Danish Maritime Authority from 1996 to 2008 and he even chaired Committee 1 during the 25th session of the IMO Assembly in 2002. He was a strong supporter of the activities of this Organization. When he passed away, I understand he was just 65. It is too young and, in my view, this is an immense loss for the maritime community as a whole and I would like to express my sincere condolences, on behalf of all of us, to the family of Hammer Hansen and I would like to request the Danish delegation to convey this to his family and also to the Danish Government.
With this statement, I want to finalize the closing remarks and, as I have mentioned, this year is an important year for effective implementation of IMO conventions. Next week, the period for the simplified procedure for acceptance of the Cape Town Agreement will expire, on 10 February 2014. It is now realistic to expect that only two Torremolinos Protocol Contracting States will have used this benefit. Among the seventeen Contracting States to the Torremolinos Protocol, only Iceland and Norway have signed to be bound by the Cape Town Agreement, utilizing the simplified procedure under article 3(4) of the Cape Town Agreement. The mechanism was debated fully, within this Organization, nearly three years ago. We spent a significant amount of time and the Cape Town Conference adopted this simplified procedure as a means of accelerating the ratification process.  That was adopted in the autumn of 2012.
As I mentioned at the evening reception to launch this year’s World Maritime Day Theme, what is the point of us spending time and energy to prepare and adopt an international mechanism, if such a mechanism is not utilized extensively? What is the point of our work here at IMO? There is a very little point at all and I hope that you share this view. I think that I need to find a good reason why the simplified acceptance procedure was not utilized extensively.
Moving to the last point, the last Assembly adopted an important resolution in the context of implementation of IMO conventions. Of course, I am talking about the Ballast Water Management Convention. As I mentioned during my opening remarks, I have sent letters to all Council Members of IMO which have not yet ratified the Ballast Water Management Convention, to take leadership as members of the IMO Council which adopted the theme of this year and to ratify the BWM Convention. Timing is crucial.
Unless the Convention comes into force before the end of next year, a core essential part of the Assembly resolution, that is the substantially relaxed implementation schedule for existing ships, cannot be activated from 2016. We have spent a huge amount of time and energy and have arrived at this practical and pragmatic solution as a firm agreement of consensus at the Assembly. I think it is a matter of leadership of all Council members, a particular leadership of the IMO membership which has a significant amount of tonnage under their flag.  It is, in my view, an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership in our maritime community to ensure the entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention before 2016.
My message should also go to shipowners. I know that they have influence over the decisions of the flag States. My point for shipowners is, please think about the potential effects of any further delay of the entry into force of the Convention. I firmly believe that the implementation of ballast water management by any country must be under the international framework.  Implementation under the international regime under the BWM Convention in force is the best for everybody. Certainly best for shipowners and this is what the IMO Assembly worked towards. I know shipowners have the power of influence in the real world and again my message to them is to really think about the implications of further delay in the ratification process for the Ballast Water Management Convention and encourage your flag States to ratify the Ballast Water Management Convention before the end of this year. I know, shipowners, you are influential and I am looking for your support to bring the Ballast Water Management Convention into force as soon as possible.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, it is now time to close a very successful first session of the newly established Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response. I thank everybody who put their efforts to ensure its success. Congratulations to everybody and all the best wishes to your National Winter Olympic Teams in Sochi.
Thank you.