ADDRESS OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AT THE OPENING OF THE SIXTH SESSION OF THE
SUB-COMMITTEE ON POLLUTION PREVENTION AND RESPONSE
(18 to 22 February 2019)
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, good morning.
It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the sixth 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 turning to the important items on the agenda of this meeting, I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about this year's World Maritime Day theme, "Empowering women in the maritime community". Women are increasingly present at sea. Their full and meaningful participation in the economy, political decision-making and society is key to addressing maritime challenges. The maritime sector needs 'all hands on deck', both male and female, if it is to take on the challenges of carrying the world's goods in an efficient, safe and clean manner.
This year's World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 26 September, and the annual parallel event will be jointly organized by the Government of Colombia and IMO. Member States are encouraged to participate to the event.
2019 will be crucial for the implementation of the reduced upper limit of the sulphur content in ships’ fuel-oil. This is a landmark decision for the environment and human health, and it demonstrates IMO’s continuing commitment to ensuring that shipping meets its environmental obligations.
Undoubtedly therefore, 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. In this regard, at its last session, this Sub-Committee developed draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil for combustion purposes for propulsion or operation on board a ship, which were subsequently adopted by MEPC 73 and are expected to enter into force on 1 March 2020. MEPC 73 also approved the Guidance on the development of a ship implementation plan for the consistent implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit, which was prepared by the Intersessional Meeting on Consistent implementation of regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI.
What remains now is for the Sub-Committee to finalize the draft Guidelines on consistent implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI taking into account the outcome of MSC 100 in relation to the safety implications associated with the use of low-sulphur fuel oil, together with draft amendments to associated port State control and onboard sampling guidelines. The importance of concluding the work on this matter cannot be overstated since these are the final and comprehensive Guidelines. Consistent implementation to all ships will ensure a level playing field is maintained. I am confident that your Sub-Committee will, once again, rise to the challenge to ensure timely completion of this vital work.
At this session you will start work on the development of measures to reduce the risks of use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel by ships in Arctic waters. With future vessel traffic in Arctic waters projected to rise, the associated risk of an accidental oil spill into Arctic waters may also increase. It is therefore imperative that the Organization takes robust action to reduce the risks to the Arctic marine environment associated with the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel by ships.
Among the other important issues before you this week, I would like to highlight:
- the consideration of a comprehensive proposal to amend annex 1 to the AFS Convention to include controls on cybutryne;
- the investigation of appropriate control measures to reduce the impact on the Arctic of Black Carbon emissions from international shipping;
- the revision of the Guidelines for the provisional assessment of liquid substances transported in bulk; and
- the finalization of the Guide on practical implementation of the OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol.
Your workload for this week is heavy and your time is at a premium but I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully, under the able leadership of your Chair, Mr. Sveinung Oftedal of Norway, and your Vice-Chair, Dr. Flavio da Costa Fernandes of Brazil. As always, the Secretariat will be standing by to give you all the support required.
Finally, as is customary, all of you are cordially invited to a cocktail reception in the Delegates' Lounge this evening after the closure of today's session.