Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 66th session, 31 March to 4 April 2014 (closing remarks)

Read by Mr. Stefan Micallef, Director, Marine Environment Division, on behalf of IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu

Sixty-sixth Session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee
Friday, 4 April 2014
Closing Remarks by the Director of MED on behalf of the Secretary-General

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,
The Secretary-General has requested me to deliver his closing remarks on his behalf.
I do not wish to prolong on a Friday evening what has been a very busy five days.  However, I cannot let you go home without congratulating you all on the tremendous productivity of this MEPC session.  Significant results have been achieved on all the major agenda items, thanks to a spirit of cooperation having prevailed, as has a proper appreciation of the need to be forward looking, cooperative, efficient and productive.
I would sum up the most significant outcomes of this session – on five important fronts.
First - regarding the Committee’s adoption of amendments to mandatory instruments, the list is really impressive and includes amendments concerning the effective date of the Tier III NOx emission standards – their adoption reaffirms the commitment of the Contracting Parties to MARPOL Annex VI to honour the current date of 1 January 2016 for the two existing NOx Emission Control Areas, while granting an extension of five years to superyachts and providing clarity on the application of the Tier III provision to new NOx Emission Control Areas.
The Committee further adopted amendments to all six MARPOL Annexes to make the use of the IMO Instruments Implementation Code mandatory.
The adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI introduce the extended application of the EEDI to LNG carriers and a number of other vessel types, while exempting cargo ships with independent ice-breaking capability and ships not propelled by mechanical means.
Important amendments to MARPOL Annex I and the BCH and IBC Codes were adopted to introduce new mandatory carriage requirements for a stability instrument.
The Committee also adopted important amendments to the NOx Technical Code concerning the certification of dual-fuel engines.
Second - as regards ballast water management, on the recommendation of the GESAMP Ballast Water Working Group, the Committee granted Final Approval to an additional two ballast water management systems using active substances and Basic Approval to an additional four systems. Also, nine further type approvals of ballast water management systems were reported to the Committee, bringing the total number of type-approved systems to 42. 
With the facilitation of the Convention’s implementation in mind, the Committee agreed on a pragmatic clarification of the matter of entry and re-entry of ships into operation within the waters under the jurisdiction of a single Party.  
I also wish to highlight the importance of the Committee’s endorsement of the revised methodology for information gathering and conduct of the work of the GESAMP-Ballast Water Working Group.
Despite the further progress at this session, we must recognize we still have significant challenges ahead of us. We must recognize the industry’s concern on the uncertainty on installed type approved systems. We must also recognize the view on the need to strengthen measures and guidelines within the framework of the BWM Convention and the Convention itself. A representative of ICS stated that it will make further submissions to MEPC 67. Therefore, I hope that concerns raised by the industry will be discussed at MEPC 67.
Within the context of the proposal made at this session to conduct a study on the implementation of the Ballast Water Performance Standards, the Secretariat will explore such a possibility and provide further information to MEPC 67. In the meantime, I maintain my request to Member Governments to continue to accelerate their ratification process so that the BWM Convention could come into force as soon as possible. We should settle all issues under the BWM Convention in force.
Third - as you know, I have been keenly awaiting the Committee’s progress in finalizing the draft text of the Polar Code. I therefore welcome the agreement on the terms of reference for a correspondence group to complete the work on outstanding issues related to the draft Code’s environment chapter and the associated draft MARPOL amendments to make the Code mandatory.  I very much hope that this further work will lead to the successful adoption of the Code within the time frames we have set ourselves.
Fourth - with regard to the mandatory review of the global availability of fuel oils complying with the MARPOL Annex VI sulphur limit, I applaud the Committee’s decision to instruct a correspondence group to develop the methodology for determining global availability of low-sulphur fuel oils.  Subject to the Committee endorsing the group’s progress report to MEPC 67 in October, it should be possible to adopt the terms of reference for the study as soon as possible and no later than MEPC 68 in May next year so that the study can commence in earnest.
Fifth - with reference to the ongoing work on energy efficiency of ships, I wish to highlight four outcomes in particular:
• the progress of the work on further  energy efficiency measures and, in particular, the detailed consideration of the core elements of a data collection system for ships;
• your agreement to establish an EEDI database, bearing in mind that the development of a centralized database could provide valuable insights into the attained energy efficiency standard of ships and thereby support future work on the reviews of technology development that are required under regulation 21.6 of MARPOL Annex VI;
• the Committee’s adoption of the 2014 Guidelines on the method of calculation of the attained EEDI for new ships; and
• your endorsement of the work plan for the Ad Hoc Expert Working Group on Facilitation of Transfer of Technology for ships, which means we can now kick start the work on the implementation of resolution MEPC.229(65).

As regards progress in the ratification of the Hong Kong Convention, the announcement that the Government of France would deposit its instrument of ratification shortly was most welcome news, which will also lend enhanced credibility to this year’s World Maritime Day theme of effective implementation of IMO conventions.
Distinguished delegates,
I know that the outside world will take note of the achievements of this MEPC session, all of which underline the Organization’s leadership role in setting global standards for shipping.  I could add several more to those I have already listed, such as the Committee’s approval of the MEPC Circular on Guidelines for the Reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping to address adverse impacts on marine life and the adoption of the 2014 Standard Specification for Shipboard Incinerators.
For now, it remains for me to thank you all and, in particular, the Committee’s new Chairman and new Vice-Chairman, Mr. Arsenio Dominguez of Panama and Dr. Naomi Parker of New Zealand.  Each has performed splendidly and to the highest standards expected from the Organization.
To you, Arsenio, I wish to say a special thank you and how impressed all of us have been by the sensitive manner in which you have steered the Committee through a very demanding session, with many complex and unresolved issues needing to be progressed or concluded.  You kept everything together and you kept everybody on board.  Equally impressive was your ability to keep the meeting firmly on track, sustaining momentum and recovering time on a very tight daily schedule.  Successfully managing so many different demands may resemble magic, but, as we all know, it can only be done with sheer determination, wisdom and outstanding leadership.
To you, Dr. Parker, I also wish to express my sincere thanks for your valuable input.  In particular, I thank you for standing in for the Chairman of the Ballast Water Review Group when he was not available, and for taking on the delicate task of chairing the informal consultations on the NOx amendments.
Distinguished delegates, I am sure you all agree that the success of this meeting has proved what an excellent tandem they are!
My thanks also go to the chairmen of the various groups that supported the work at this session: Mr. Steinbock of Germany, Mr. Yoshida of Japan, Mr. Ntuli of South Africa,

Mr. Chrysostomou of Cyprus, and Mr. Wiley of Canada. 
Last but not least, I cannot forget to mention my appreciation of the tremendous efforts of all the staff in the Marine Environment Division, and those of our colleagues in the Conference Division – involving the Documents Control and Production Section, Meeting Services, the Translation Sections, and the Terminology and Reference Section.  And, of course, the interpreters, whose skills to facilitate our communicating effectively never cease to amaze.
Before I close my statement, I wish Mr. Ranjeet Singh of the Republic of Singapore all the very best in his future endeavours, and those delegates who will also be leaving us to pursue other activities.  I thank all of them for their contributions to the work of the Committee and the Organization. 
I understand that Mr. David Tongue of the International Chamber of Shipping will retire soon and that this is his last MEPC.  He has attended numerous IMO committee and sub-committee meetings over many years and contributed his expertise with both great conviction and unfailing commitment to the safety of life at sea and the protection of the environment.  Thank you very much, David, and enjoy your well-deserved retirement. 
I also wish Mr. Fer van de Laar of the International Association of Ports and Harbours a happy retirement.
With this, I wish to conclude my closing statement by saying that, in my view, this was one of the most productive meetings with many outcomes to be proud of.  Now it is time to put the work aside and take a well-deserved rest. 
Those who are staying in London I wish a nice weekend; those who are returning home I wish a safe journey; and all of you I look forward to welcoming back at IMO soon, and certainly at the next MEPC session in October.
Thank you.