Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR), 5th session, 5-9 February 2018 (opening address)

(5 to 9 February 2018)

Good morning, distinguished delegates,

It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the fifth session of the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response. I particularly welcome those delegates who may be attending this Sub-Committee for the first time.

Before addressing the work of your Sub-Committee, I would like to express my sorrow upon hearing the tragic sinking of the Kiribati ferry Mv. Butiraoi, carrying more than 80 passengers and crew, which was first reported missing on 26 January 2018. On behalf of the IMO membership, the Secretariat and myself, I would like to send our deepest sympathies to the Government of Kiribati and to the families and loved ones of the victims. I would also like to commend all those involved in the international search and rescue operations.

Distinguished delegates,

Last year was a very successful one and we should be proud of all the great achievements. I wish to highlight, in the context of protection of the marine environment and the atmosphere, the entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention in September 2017 and the development of an initial IMO GHG strategy, which we all expect its adoption at MEPC 72 in April this year.

The Organization’s contribution to the global efforts to address climate change features prominently in our Strategic Plan. The mandatory data collection system for fuel oil consumption of ships, entering into force in less than one month time, will provide robust data and information on which future decisions on additional measures, over and above those already adopted, can be made. We have committed to produce a comprehensive strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships, beginning with an initial strategy to be adopted at MEPC 72.

The whole world will be watching IMO and looking for something of real substance, an initial strategy that will send an important signal of intent and provide a firm basis for our work towards the revised strategy in 2023. The task will not be easy at times; the stakes are high and the expectations even higher. I urge you to be bold to set ambitious goals that really will make a difference and to use this opportunity to enhance our well established system of collaboration and cooperation. I will do my utmost to open even further our communication channels which are paramount in facing together the challenges that lay ahead for the shipping industry.

This year's World Maritime Day theme, which is "IMO 70: Our heritage – better shipping for a better future" reflects on the Organization’s celebration of its 70th Anniversary. I encourage you to take part in the events programmed to commemorate this milestone, to embrace the theme and use this occasion to reflect and showcase how the Organization has adapted over the years as a crucial player to the global supply chain, and to be passionate about the IMO family.

In this connection, I wish to pay tribute to the Sub-Committee’s remarkable and impressive achievements during the long period of its existence.  Since its creation  in 1976 as the Sub-Committee on Bulk Chemicals which  was succeeded by the BLG Sub-Committee in 1996 , your dedicated work, through ongoing revision of MARPOL Annexes I and II, the International Bulk Chemical Code and the International Gas Carrier Code and the development of new regulatory measures, has resulted in highly restrictive limits for operational discharge of oil and chemical tanker washings, the ban of carriage and use of heavy grade oil in the Antarctic area, and a new four-category system for categorizing noxious and liquid substances, etc. 

As a dedicated technical sub-committee on environment matters, the PPR Sub-Committee, which succeeded the BLG Sub-Committee in 2013, has been covering a remarkably broad canvas, embracing everything from the quality of our atmosphere to the invasive species that can be transported around the world in ships’ ballast water. The revision of MARPOL Annex VI, with a progressive reduction in SOx and NOx emissions from ships, and the development of comprehensive guidelines on the management of ballast water and biofouling, is exemplary in illustrating the commitment of the Organization to be in the frontline of achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals which are a wide-ranging response to the challenges facing the world today.


Distinguished delegates,

Undoubtedly, the most important item on your agenda this week is the consistent implementation of the 0.50% m/m global limit of the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil, which will come into effect from 1 January 2020. There is no turning back! The lower global sulphur limit will have a significant beneficial impact on the environment and on human health, particularly that of people living in port cities and coastal communities.

Consistent implementation to all ships will ensure a level playing field is maintained, with the result that the expected improvement of the environment and human health will be achieved. The large number of submissions on the matter indicates its importance and significance in the minds of all parties concerned, a point reiterated by the recent combined press release from industry and environmental observer organizations.

I am confident that the Sub-Committee, with the assistance of an intersessional meeting scheduled later this year, will, once again, rise to the challenge to ensure timely completion of this vital work. This will no doubt project, to the wider world community, the image of an organization that is effective in the exercise of its regulatory mandate related to environmental health and united in its determination to ensure that international shipping remains the most environmentally sound mode of transport.

Moving on to the Ballast Water Management Convention,  you will note with satisfaction the outcome of MEPC 71 which, inter alia, agreed a practical and pragmatic implementation schedule for ships to comply with regulation D-2 of the Convention – an agreement crucially reached before its entry into force last September. MEPC 71 also adopted a resolution on “The experience-building phase associated with the BWM Convention” with a detailed plan to be further considered at its next session in April this year. I look forward to the further work at this session on the revision or development of Guidance on topics including ballast water sampling and analysis, methodologies that may be used for enumerating viable organisms, System Design Limitations and contingency measures for ports with challenging water qualities.

In relation to the OPRC convention, one of the items under consideration is the final draft of part IV of the Guidelines for the use of dispersants for combating oil pollution at sea, which specifically focuses on the sub-sea application of dispersant during an offshore oil discharge. The revision and the update of the IMO Dispersant Guidelines, has been a significant undertaking. It was initiated in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon incident, to reflect the latest developments in this field of response and in particular, capture the learnings from its use in that particular incident. I look forward to the finalization at this session of this final part of the Guidelines, which in their entirety will provide useful and practical advice to Governments in preparing for and responding to oil spills at sea. The work of the Organization is essential in this field as it yields a stronger preparedness and response community. I would therefore encourage all interested stakeholders to continue sharing their experience and lesson learnt through submissions on technical matters on preparedness for and response to accidental marine pollution from spill of oil and HNS.

Among the other important issues before you this week, I would like to highlight:

- the revision of chapters  17 and 18 of the IBC Code;

- the development of a regulatory solution to the discharge of high-viscosity solidifying and persistent floating products;

- the consideration of an initial proposal to amend annex 1 to the AFS Convention to include controls on cybutryne; and

- further work on the Consideration of the impact on the Arctic of emissions of Black Carbon from international shipping.


Distinguished delegates,

I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully, inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation and under the able leadership of your Chair, Mr. Sveinung Oftedal of Norway.  As always, the Secretariat will be standing by to give you all the support required.  I am sure that, you will make sound, balanced and timely decisions and I extend best wishes to all of you for every success in your deliberations.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the interpreters for their dedicated contribution during last year and I look forward to continue receiving their precious assistance this year.

Before I conclude, let me remind you that the submission of nominations for the 2018 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is open until 16 April. For those who are not familiar with this prestigious annual Award, it was established by the Organization to provide international recognition to individuals who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of outstanding bravery while attempting to rescue persons in distress at sea or to prevent catastrophic pollution of the marine environment. I hope you
will agree that we should do our utmost to identify these remarkable people to give them the recognition they rightly deserve and I look forward to receiving your nominations

Finally, as is customary, all of you are cordially invited to a cocktail reception hosted by me in the Delegates' Lounge this evening after the closure of today's session.

Thank you.