Southern South Africa waters designated as Special Area by IMO environment meeting
Protection Committee (MEPC) - 55th session: 9 - 13 October 2006
Amendments to MARPOL designating the waters off Southern South Africa as a Special
Area under the MARPOL Convention for the prevention of pollution by ships, have
been adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International
Maritime Organization (IMO), which met for its 55th session from 9-13 October,
at Westminster Central Hall, London.
also made significant progress in developing a new convention on ship recycling
and on other issues on its agenda, including ballast water management and air
pollution from ships.
Africa Special Area
The designation of the Southern South Africa waters as a Special Area under
Annex I (Regulations for the prevention of pollution by oil from ships)
of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships,
1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78), will
provide measures to protect wildlife and the marine environment in an ecologically
important region used intensively by shipping.
In an Annex
I Special Area, any discharge into the sea of oil or oily mixtures from ships
of 400 gross tonnage and above is prohibited except when certain conditions
Other Special Areas designated under MARPOL Annex I are: the Mediterranean Sea,
Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Red Sea, "Gulfs" Area, Gulf of Aden, Antarctic,
North West European Waters and the Oman area of the Arabian Sea.
The MEPC also agreed a Circular which requests Member Governments and industry
groups to comply with the Special Area requirements immediately on a voluntary
basis and, in particular, requests them to urge oil tankers to refrain from
washing their cargo tanks in the new Special Area, pending the entry into force
of the amendment, which will take effect from March 2008.
Annex III adopted
The MEPC adopted the revised MARPOL Annex III Regulations for the prevention
of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form. The
Annex has been revised to harmonize the regulations with the criteria for defining
marine pollutants which have been adopted by the UN Transport of Dangerous Goods
(TDG) Sub-Committee, based on the United Nations Globally Harmonized System
of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
the Condition Assessment Scheme
The MEPC adopted amendments to the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) clarifying
the validity of the Statement of Compliance where there is a change of ownership
of the ship, change of recognized organization or change of flag and giving
the procedures to follow in these cases.
the Guidelines for the transport and handling of limited amounts of hazardous
and noxious liquid substances in bulk on offshore supply vessels
The MEPC adopted amendments to the Guidelines for the transport and handling
of limited amounts of hazardous and noxious liquid substances in bulk on offshore
supply vessels (LHNS guidelines) consequent upon the entry into force of
the revised MARPOL Annex II and the amended IBC Code on 1 January 2007.
The MEPC adopted revised Guidelines on implementation of effluent standards
and performance tests for sewage treatment plants. The revised guidelines,
which will apply to sewage treatment plants installed onboard on or after 1
January 2010, replace the Recommendation on international effluent standards
and guidelines for performance tests for sewage treatment plants adopted
by resolution MEPC.2(VI) in 1976.
The MEPC also adopted a standard for the maximum rate of discharge of untreated
sewage from holding tanks when at a distance equal or greater than 12 nautical
miles from the nearest land.
The MEPC Working Group on Ship Recycling further developed the text of the draft
Convention providing globally applicable ship recycling regulations for international
shipping and for recycling activities and it agreed to request the IMO Council,
at its 98th session (in June 2007), to consider the allocation of a five-day
international conference in the 2008-2009 biennium to adopt it.
It is intended
that the Convention will provide regulations for:
design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate
safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety
and operational efficiency of ships;
the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally
sound manner; and
the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling,
incorporating certification and reporting requirements.
group was established to continue developing the draft convention and related
guidelines and it was agreed to hold an intersessional meeting of the Ship Recycling
Working Group, ahead of the next MEPC session scheduled for July 2007.
organisms in ballast water
The MEPC adopted the following guidelines, which are part of a series developed
to assist in the implementation of the International Convention for the Control
and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) adopted
in February 2004:
water exchange design and control standards (G11);
and construction to facilitate sediment control on ships (G12);
designation of areas for ballast water exchange (G14);
sediment reception facilities (G1); and
water reception facilities (G5).
Six other guidelines
in the series have already been adopted during the last two sessions of the
MEPC. The Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) was instructed to finalize
guidelines on additional measures including emergency situations (G13).
following consideration of the report of the second meeting of the GESAMP1
Ballast Water Working Group, which met in May 2006, the MEPC granted Basic Approval
to two BWM systems proposed by Japan (the Special Pipe Ballast Water Management
System (combined with Ozone treatment)) and Sweden (the EctoSys electrochemical
Water Review Group met during the session to evaluate the latest information
on ballast water treatment technologies and to determine whether appropriate
technologies are available to achieve the ballast water performance standard
required under regulation D-2 of the BWM Convention by 2009, the first date
specified in the Convention under which new ships must comply with the performance
standard. Based on the Review Group's conclusions, the MEPC noted that type-approved
ballast water management systems would probably be available for installation
prior to the first application date of the BWM Convention. However, the installation
of type-approved ballast water management systems on ships already contracted
to be built in or after 2009 may not be feasible or only possible at excessive
cost and/or delivery delay.
The MEPC noted two options as suggested in the report of the Review Group: (1)
to amend the first application date specified in the BWM Convention; or (2)
to develop an exemption procedure for the first set of vessels.
to the above suggested options, the Chairman of the MEPC stated that the amendment
procedure of the BWM Convention (described in Article 19) could not be applied
until the Convention is in force. The Committee strongly urged all Member Governments
to ratify the Convention at their earliest convenience so that either amendments
or exemptions could be considered by the MEPC as soon as the conditions for
entry into force are satisfied.
to address the concerns related to the availability of appropriate technologies,
the Committee invited Administrations to develop recommendations to ensure that
owners allow for technology to be included in ship design; invited Administrations
with land-based testing facilities to supply information to the next session
of the Committee (in July 2007) on the existence, utilization, capacity, accreditation
and capabilities of their facilities; and invited Member States and observers
to submit information on the estimated number of vessels in the first category
to which the Convention may apply.
noted that, to date, only six countries representing 0.62% of the world tonnage
had become contracting States to the BWM Convention and once again urged Member
States to ratify it at the earliest possible opportunity.
air pollution from ships
The MEPC agreed a work plan, with a timetable, to identify and develop the mechanisms
needed to achieve the limitation or reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
from ships, noting that climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions from
the burning of fossil fuel is a steadily growing concern for most countries.
The MEPC noted that shipping, although an environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient
mode of transport, nevertheless, needs to take action on greenhouse gases (GHG).
The work plan provides for the further development of the CO2 Emission Indexing
Scheme, with Member States and the industry asked to continue to carry out trials
in accordance with the Interim Guidelines for Voluntary Ship CO2 Emission Indexing
for Use in Trials (MEPC/Circ.471, issued in 2005); the consideration and evaluation
of methodology for CO2 emission baseline(s); and the consideration of technical,
operational and market-based methods for dealing with GHG emissions. The aim
is to complete the work by 2008/2009.
Following discussions in the Working Group on Air Pollution, the MEPC moved
forward with other issues relating to air pollution as follows:
it agreed eight unified interpretations relating to the implementation and
enforcement of MARPOL Annex VI, the NOx Technical Code and related guidelines;
approved the standard form of the Sulphur Emissions Control Area (SECA)
Compliance Certificate to facilitate uniform enforcement and port State
approved the establishment of a correspondence group to develop washwater
discharge criteria for exhaust gas SOx cleaning systems;
standardization of on-shore power supply connections with ships, it agreed
that a global standard would benefit the shipping industry but agreed to
await the finalization of such a standard before taking any decision on
its possible inclusion in the revised MARPOL Annex VI, noting that the International
Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical
Commission (EIC) have established a working group on standardization of
on-shore power supply for ships at berth; and
agreed that that co-operation between the secretariats of the International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and IMO should be strengthened and that
developments related to GHG emissions in both Organizations should be communicated
to each other.
Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) is currently undertaking a comprehensive
review of MARPOL Annex VI and the NOx Technical Code and an intersessional meeting
of the BLG Air Pollution Working Group will be held from 13 to 17 November 2006
in Oslo, Norway, to progress the work further.
The MEPC noted the results of monitoring of the worldwide average of sulphur
content of residual fuel oils, which indicated that in 2005, almost 90% of the
samples had sulphur contents between 1.5 and 4% m/m. Almost 50% was between
2 and 3% m/m. 219 out of 79,592 (0.3%) of the samples were over 4.5% m/m sulphur,
and 5 samples contained more than 5% sulphur (compared to 7 samples in 2004).
The sulphur content of residual fuel measured for 2003, 2004 and 2005 gave a
three year rolling average for the period of 2.7%. The rolling average for 2002-2004
shoreside reception facilities
The MEPC approved an Action Plan to tackle the alleged inadequacy of port reception
facilities - seen as a major hurdle to overcome in order to achieve full compliance
with MARPOL. The Plan was developed by the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation
(FSI) and it is hoped that its outcome will contribute to the effective implementation
of the MARPOL Convention and promote quality and environmental consciousness
among administrations and shipping.
The Plan contains
a list of proposed work items to be undertaken by IMO with the aim of improving
the provision and use of adequate port reception facilities, including items
relating to reporting requirements; provision of information on port reception
facilities; identification of any technical problems encountered during the
transfer of waste between ship and shore and the standardization of garbage
segregation requirements and containment identification; review of the type
and amount of wastes generated on board and the type and capacity of port reception
facilities; revision of the IMO Comprehensive Manual on Port Reception Facilities;
and development of a Guide to Good Practice on Port Reception Facilities. With
regard to regional arrangements, the Committee agreed to recognize them as a
means to provide reception facilities in light of the MARPOL requirements, taking
into account the benefit of having such regional arrangements in place.
Review of MARPOL
The MEPC established an intersessional correspondence group to develop the framework,
method of work and timetable for a comprehensive review of MARPOL Annex V Regulations
for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships and the associated
Revised Guidelines for the implementation of MARPOL Annex V. The review
will take into account resolution 60/30 of the UN General Assembly, which invited
IMO to review MARPOL Annex V, in consultation with relevant organizations and
bodies, and to assess its effectiveness in addressing sea-based sources of marine
bio-fuels and bio-fuel blends
The MEPC agreed to address the increasing transport by sea of bio-fuels and
bio-fuel blends as cargo, in order to clarify the regulations which apply. Bio-fuels
are considered to fall under MARPOL Annex II when transported as products intended
for blending with petroleum or mineral products but, when carried as blended
products, it becomes unclear whether their carriage should be in accordance
with MARPOL Annex I or Annex II. The MEPC instructed the Sub-Committee on Bulk
Liquids and Gases (BLG) to include on its agenda a new high-priority item on
"Application of requirements for the carriage of bio-fuels and bio-fuel
blends", with a target completion date of 2008.
The Committee was provided with an update on the marine environment protection-
related technical co-operation activities under IMO's Integrated Technical Co-operation
Programme (ITCP), the purpose of which is to assist countries in building up
their human and institutional capacities for uniform and effective compliance
with the Organization's regulatory framework. This covered activities carried
out with IMO and donor financing, including the following programmes funded
by the Global Environment Facility: Building Partnerships for Environmental
Protection and Management of the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA); Building Partnerships
to Assist Developing Countries to Reduce the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms
in Ships' Ballast Water (GloBallast Partnerships); Development of a Regional
Marine Electronic Highway (MEH) in the East Asian Seas; and the IMO/UNEP/UNIDO
Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME) Project. Information was also
provided on the EC/MEDA financed project on EUROMED Co-operation on Maritime
Safety and Prevention of Pollution from Ships (SAFEMED);
acknowledged and expressed gratitude to IMO and its partners for their financial
and/or in-kind contributions to the ITCP and invited Member States, international
organizations and the shipping and oil industry to continue and, if possible,
increase their support.
The MEPC considered the report of the fifth meeting of the OPRC HNS Technical
Group, which met in the week prior to the Committee's session and approved an
MEPC circular on Briefing package for senior government officials and high-level
executives in the event of major oil spills, which is intended to facilitate
the preparation of a comprehensive but concise brief for senior government officials
and high-level executives, as well as a revision of the Manual on oil pollution
Section I - Prevention.
The MEPC also approved the Guidance document on planning and response to
chemical releases in the marine environment that was prepared by the OPRC-HNS
Technical Group and agreed at its fourth session.
Oil spill in
The MEPC was provided with a status report on the response to the Lebanon oil
spill and agreed that the OPRC HNS Technical Group should look into any lessons
learned. What was reportedly one of the worst oil spills ever suffered in the
Mediterranean resulted in an estimated 15,000 tonnes of oil escaping into the
marine environment affecting over 150 km of shoreline, primarily in Lebanon,
but also with some impact to the coast of southern Syria. IMO initiated numerous
actions - within the framework of UNCLOS and the OPRC and Barcelona Conventions
- and REMPEC, the Malta-based Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre
for the Mediterranean Sea, which is jointly administered by IMO and UNEP, was
activated at the earliest stages of the incident to mobilize and co-ordinate
regional and international assistance; co-ordinate the development of an action
plan with the participation other technical and scientific experts and organizations;
and deploy various experts to support the Government of Lebanon in managing
the response to the spill.
The MEPC noted with appreciation presentations made by two 12 year olds from
Greece and Turkey, representing the Junior program of the International Marine
Environment Protection Association (Intermepa), on their activities to protect
the marine environment, as well as a range of initiatives aimed at children
which were outlined by the IMO Secretary-General (See IMO
38, 18 October 2006
1GESAMP: IMO/FAO/UNESCO/IOC/WHO/IAEA/UN/UNEP Joint Group of
Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection.
2 International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness,
Response and Co-operation (OPRC Convention) and the OPRC-HNS (Hazardous and
Noxious Substances) Protocol.
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