The reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from international shipping will be a major focus for the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), when it meets for its 61st session from 27 September to 1 October, 2010 at the IMO Headquarters in London.
Also high on the agenda will be the expected adoption of the revised Annex III of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), covering pollution from packaged goods, and consideration of issues relating to the implementation of the ballast water management and ship recycling conventions.
Measures to address GHG from ships
The MEPC is expected to consider the approval of technical and operational measures to reduce CO2 emissions from international shipping (specifically, the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP)) as mandatory measures, possibly as amendments to MARPOL Annex VI Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships, with the type and size of vessel to which they will apply also to be agreed.
The Committee will additionally discuss further work concerning market-based measures, including the possible development of a mandatory IMO instrument.
A working group on GHG issues will be convened during the session to refine the regulatory text implementing the technical and operational measures as mandatory standards, as well as the formulas and guidelines supporting the regulatory text.
The MEPC will have before it for consideration the outcome of two intersessional working groups, one of which progressed work on the contemplated technical and operational measures to enhance energy efficiency in ships' operations, while the other, consisting of a group of experts, conducted a feasibility study and impact assessment of a number of proposed market-based measures.
The Committee will also consider the issue of a reduction target and whether the international maritime sector should be subject to an explicit emission ceiling (cap) comprising the entire world fleet of merchant vessels.
Adoption of the revised MARPOL Annex III
The MEPC will consider, with a view to adoption, the revised MARPOL Annex III Regulations for the prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form. The amended text, which was approved at the last session, is aimed at bringing the Annex up to date with the mandatory International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, specifying that goods should be shipped in accordance with relevant provisions.
Implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention
The MEPC will address issues relating to the implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 and is expected to reiterate the need for ratification of the Convention to achieve its entry into force. To date, 26 States, with an aggregate merchant shipping tonnage of 24.66% 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 percent of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant shipping, have become Parties to it.
The MEPC is also expected to decide on proposals for "basic approval" or "final approval" of 10 ballast water management systems that make use of active substances, after consideration of the reports of the thirteenth and fourteenth meetings of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment Protection (GESAMP) Ballast Water Working Group, which met in May and July 2010, respectively.
Recycling of ships
The MEPC will continue its work on developing guidelines intended to assist ship recycling facilities 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.
Following development by a correspondence group, the MEPC will consider draft Guidelines for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling, Guidelines for the development of the Ship Recycling Plan and Guidelines for the authorization of Ship Recycling Facilities.
The Committee is expected to encourage Governments to ratify the Convention, which has been signed, subject to ratification, by five countries, and to review the programme for technical assistance aimed at supporting its early implementation.
Revision of MARPOL Annex V
The MEPC is expected to consider the approval of proposed draft amendments to revise and update MARPOL Annex V Regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships and its guidelines, following a comprehensive review by a correspondence group.
Emission Control Area proposal
The MEPC will consider a proposal to designate certain waters adjacent to coasts of Puerto Rico (United States) and the Virgin Islands (United States) as an Emission Control Area (ECA) for the control of emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOX), sulphur oxide (SOX), and particulate matter under MARPOL Annex VI Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships.
Currently, there are two designated ECAs under Annex VI, the Baltic Sea area and the North Sea area, and a third area, the North American ECA, was adopted in March 2010, with expected entry into force in August 2011.
Annex IV special area proposal
The MEPC will consider a proposal to amend MARPOL Annex IV Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships to include the possibility of establishing Special Areas for the prevention of such pollution and to designate the Baltic Sea as a Special Area under this Annex.
Proposal to make Strait of Bonifacio a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area
The MEPC will consider a proposal submitted by France and Italy to designate the Strait of Bonifacio as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA).
Implementation of the OPRC Convention and OPRC-HNS Protocol
The MEPC will be invited to consider the report of the eleventh meeting of the OPRC HNS Technical Group, which is being held in the week prior to the Committee's session, and is expected to approve the following draft texts developed by the Technical Group: the revised Manual on oil pollution, Section I - Prevention and the Guidance document on the implementation of an incident management system.
24 September 2010
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