- Adoption of amendments to IMO mandatory instruments
- Reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships
- Implementation of the sulphur 2020 limit
- Marine plastic litter action plan
- Ballast water management (BWM) Convention implementation
- Approval of guidance and other matters
- Technical cooperation and capacity building
1. Adoption of amendments
The following MARPOL amendments were adopted.
MARPOL amendments – use of electronic record books
MARPOL Amendments to allow for electronic record books to be used were adopted, for Annex I - Oil Record Book Part I – Machinery space operations and Oil Record Book Part II – Cargo/ballast operations; Annex II - Cargo Record Book; and Annex V - Garbage Record Book; and Annex VI for records relating to Regulation 12 – Ozone-depleting substances, Regulation 13 – Nitrogen oxides (NOX) and Regulation 14 – Sulphur oxides (SOX) and particulate matter. The expected entry into force date is 1 October 2020.
The MEPC also adopted related Guidelines for the use of electronic record books under MARPOL.
MARPOL amendments - Cargo residues and tank washings of persistent floating noxious liquid substances
MEPC adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex II to strengthen, in specified sea areas, discharge requirements for cargo residues and tank washings containing persistent floating products with a high-viscosity and/or a high melting point that can solidify under certain conditions (e.g. certain vegetable oils and paraffin-like cargoes), following concerns about the environmental impact of permissible discharges.
The amendments add new paragraphs to MARPOL Annex II Regulation 13 – Control of discharges of residues of noxious liquid substances, to require prewash and discharge of residue/water mixture generated during the prewash to a reception facility, for specific products, in specified areas (North West European waters, Baltic Sea area, Western European waters and Norwegian Sea).
The expected entry into force date is 1 January 2021.
MARPOL amendments - EEDI regulations for ice-strengthened ships
Other amendments to MARPOL Annex VI were adopted, relating to the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) regulations for ice-strengthened ships, replacing the words "cargo ships having ice-breaking capability" with "category A ships as defined in the Polar Code". The expected entry into force date is 1 October 2020.
Amendments to mandatory Codes
IBC Code amendments
The MEPC adopted a comprehensive set of amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), including the revised chapters 17 (Summary of minimum requirements), 18 (List of products to which the code does not apply), 19 (Index of Products Carried in Bulk) and 21 (Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code). Consequential amendments to the Code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk (BCH Code) were also adopted. The expected entry into force date is 1 January 2021.
NOX Technical Code 2008 amendments
The amendments relate to the use of Electronic Record Books, and Certification requirements for selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems. The MEPC also adopted a related MEPC resolution on Amendments to the 2017 Guidelines addressing additional aspects of the NOx Technical Code 2008 with regard to particular requirements related to marine diesel engines fitted with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems. The expected entry into force date is 1 October 2020.
2. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships
The MEPC pushed forward with a number of measures aimed at supporting the achievement of the objectives set out in the initial IMO strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships, in line with the Paris Agreement under UNFCCC and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The MEPC approved amendments to strengthen existing mandatory requirements for new ships to be more energy efficient; initiated the Fourth IMO GHG Study; adopted a resolution encouraging cooperation with ports to reduce emission from shipping; approved a procedure for the impact assessment of new measures proposed; agreed to establish a multi-donor trust fund for GHG; and agreed terms of reference for the sixth and seventh intersessional working groups to be held in November 2019 and in March 2020 respectively in order to expedite the work.
Also discussed were possible candidate short-term, mid- and long-term measures aiming at reducing GHG emissions from ships, to be further considered at next sessions.
See press briefing UN agency pushes forward on shipping emissions reduction
Further work on energy efficiency of ships (EEDI review)
The MEPC approved, for adoption at the next session in April 2020, amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to significantly strengthen the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) "phase 3" requirements.
See press briefing UN agency pushes forward on shipping emissions reduction
3. Implementation of the sulphur 2020 limit
The MEPC approved and adopted a comprehensive set of guidance and guidelines to support the consistent implementation of the lower 0.50% limit on sulphur in ships’ fuel oil, which will enter into effect from 1 January 2020. Related draft MARPOL amendments were also approved.
The 2019 Guidelines on consistent implementation of 0.50% sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI adopted by resolution MEPC.320(74) are available here.
These comprehensive guidelines include a template for a "Fuel Oil Non-Availability Report (FONAR)" set out in Appendix 1 and a "Technical review of identified possible potential safety implications associated with the use of 2020 compliant fuels" set out in appendix 2.
See press briefing Sulphur 2020 implementation – IMO issues additional guidance
Exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS)
Some ships use exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) (“scrubbers”), accepted by their flag States as an alternative equivalent means to meet the sulphur limit requirement.
The Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) is undertaking a review of the 2015 Guidelines on Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS). The guidelines include, among other things, washwater discharge standards.
The MEPC approved a new output on "Evaluation and harmonization of rules and guidance on the discharge of liquid effluents from EGCS into waters, including conditions and areas", in the 2020-2021 biennial agenda of the PPR Sub-Committee and the provisional agenda for PPR 7 (meeting in February 2020), with a target completion year of 2021. PPR 7 is expected to further review the documents that were submitted to MEPC 74 in relation to the newly approved output, with a view to refining the title and scope of the output and will report the outcome of its consideration to MEPC.
The MEPC also instructed the Secretariat to liaise with the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), an advisory body that advises the United Nations (UN) system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection.
The MEPC requested that, subject to sufficient external funding being provided by Member States and other stakeholders, a GESAMP task team be established to assess the available evidence relating to the environmental impact of discharges of exhaust gas cleaning system effluent, with a view to reporting its findings to PPR 7.
4. Marine plastic litter action plan
Following up on the IMO Action Plan to address marine plastic litter from ships adopted at the last session, a working group met during the session to discuss how to move forward. Among other outcomes, the MEPC:
- Approved the terms of reference for an IMO Study on marine plastic litter from ships, to focus on information on the contribution of all ships to marine plastic litter; and information of storage, delivery and reception of plastic waste from and collected by ships.
- Noted that the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) had established a Working Group on sea-based sources of marine litter (GESAMP WG 43), which would, inter alia, review and provide an analysis of the existing body of knowledge on marine plastic litter from all sea‑based sources, and an assessment of data gaps.
- Invited GESAMP to provide a report to MEPC 75 on the work of GESAMP WG 43, together with a presentation.
- Developed a regulatory framework matrix to identify all international regulatory instruments and best practices associated with the issue of marine plastic litter from ships.
- Approved the scope of work for the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) in relation to actions of the Action Plan to address marine plastic litter from ships (resolution MEPC.310(74)) that had been categorized as short-term, including facilitating and enhancing reporting of the accidental loss or discharge of fishing gear.
- Invited the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to -
make information on fishing gear marking and logging schemes available to MEPC and/or to the GESAMP Working Group 43, as appropriate;
collaborate with IMO and provide advice on the voluntary or mandatory application of marking of fishing gear, including costs associated with the implementation of a mandatory requirement and the most appropriate FAO or IMO instrument for potentially introducing such a requirement; and
submit to future sessions of MEPC or the PPR Sub-Committee relevant information on existing reporting mechanisms of accidentally lost or discharged fishing gear, including the challenges and benefits of such systems, as well as information that could help clarify details on losses that should be reported.
- Invited proposals to the PPR Sub-Committee from interested Member States and international organizations on reporting mechanisms for accidentally lost or discharged fishing gear, including the challenges and benefits of such systems and existing and potential ways to encourage fishing vessels to report.
- Concurred that the preferred way for progressing mandatory reporting of containers lost at sea and ways of communicating their location, would be for interested Member States and international organizations to submit proposals for a new output to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). The MEPC requested the Sub-Committees on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC) and on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) to note the importance of the issue of lost containers at sea for addressing marine plastic litter from ships, as their expertise could be sought in future.
A Correspondence Group was established, to finalize a draft strategy to address marine plastic litter from ships, based on discussions during MEPC 74, and report to MEPC 75.
Meanwhile, Norway announced its intention to support a proposed IMO/FAO/Norway GloLitter project to support the IMO Action Plan. The project would also see the institution of an award to honour the contributions made by Ms. Joanna Toole (FAO), who lost her life in an air accident in March 2019.
5. Ballast water management treaty implementation
The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWM Convention), entered into force in September 2017 and has, to date, been ratified by 81 countries, representing 80.76% of world merchant shipping tonnage. Amendments to the treaty, relating to implementation timelines, will enter into force on 13 October 2019.
The main focus for the convention now is on its effective and uniform implementation, and on an experience-building phase, with a focus on gathering data on application of the BWM treaty.
The MEPC approved BWM.2/Circ.67/Rev.1 on the revised Data gathering and analysis plan for the experience-building phase associated with the BWM Convention, to incorporate a link to standard operating procedures.
The MEPC approved amendments to the BWM Convention concerning commissioning testing of ballast water management systems and the form of the International Ballast Water Management Certificate. The amendments will be circulated with a view to adoption at MEPC 75. The Committee endorsed the view that commissioning testing should begin as soon as possible, in accordance with the already approved Guidance for the commissioning testing of ballast water management systems (BWM.2/Circ.70)
MEPC 74 approved five ballast water management systems that make use of Active Substances.
6. Approval of other amendments, guidance and other matters
Amongst other matters, the MEPC:
- Approved four circulars containing new or updated guidance relevant to the assessment and carriage of chemicals in bulk, including the revised MEPC circular on the Guidelines for the provisional assessment of liquid substances transported in bulk.
- Approved the methodology to analyse the impacts of a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel in Arctic waters.
- Approved the Guide on practical implementation of the pollution prevention and response treaties (OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol).
- Referred back to the PPR Sub-Committee, draft amendments to the International Convention for the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships (AFS Convention), for finalization for future adoption, to include new controls on the biocide cybutryne.
7. Technical cooperation and capacity building activities
In order to implement IMO's environment-related instruments, technical cooperation and capacity building activities have played a very important role at IMO.
The MEPC agreed to establish a voluntary multi-donor trust fund ("GHG TC-Trust Fund"), to provide a dedicated source of financial support for technical cooperation and capacity-building activities to support the implementation of the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships.
The IMO-Norway GreenVoyage-2050 project was launched (13 May), to respond to the need to provide technical assistance to States and to support technology transfer and promote green technology uptake to improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions throughout the maritime sector. (See press briefing 08/2019.)