Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR), 1st session (opening address)

This text is an ad verbatim transcript.

(3 to 7 February 2014)
Good morning distinguished delegates,
Welcome to the first session of the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response – the PPR Sub-Committee.
We are now firmly moved into a new year. I understand that Chinese New Year started over the last weekend so we are already in February but still in the New Year so in that context I want to say Happy New Year. This year is the year of the horse, which is a year of evolution and, in this year of evolution, again we are making history.
 IMO has been dealing with environmental protection, starting with pollution prevention from ships. We are an Organization that is not only dealing with safety, but also protecting the marine environment. More than 40 years ago, in the wake of the Torrey Canyon disaster, IMO started work on the environment. In 1973, the MARPOL Convention was adopted and, on 4 March 1974, the very first session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee was held. Two years later, 15 May 1976, the first session of the BCH Sub-Committee was held. Since then, the torch has been carried over to the BLG Sub-Committee and now we are opening a new chapter with the new Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response.
Since this is the time for any New Year’s message to be delivered from me, I have done that at the opening of the last Sub-Committee meeting, SDC 1, as an opening address. I will not repeat word for word what I said two weeks ago, but IMO is still in transition. A transition to a new restructure of its sub-committees, transition to a mandatory audit system and I will carry out further work for the Secretariat’s review and reform process. The overview of developments over the last biennium has been provided and I appreciate the support and cooperation provided by all Member Governments and the Secretariat. I will continue the process of review and reform in order to develop an efficient Organization.
My main targets were indicated at the beginning of last year and I will maintain them. The first one is to eradicate piracy and the other one is my attempt to reduce maritime casualties by half if possible in the future.
I have indicated a list of high priority issues – the smooth introduction of the new sub-committee structure is obviously the first priority, followed by preparation for the mandatory audit, implementation of goal-based standards and then adoption of a mandatory polar code, hopefully this year.
And I wish to complete the initial phase of implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct.
And implementation of EEDI and MARPOL annex VI are continuously priority issues.
We cannot forget about our attempt to ensure entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention before the process of retroactive application starts at the beginning of 2016. I wish to encourage MEPC to carry out the low-sulphur fuel availability study as soon as possible. On top of those 8 priority issues, I am making progress in the review of the World Maritime University.
At the beginning of the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction, I mentioned that the opening day of that Sub-Committee coincided with the 100 year anniversary of SOLAS. This year is the 100 years anniversary of the SOLAS Convention and, in this commemorative year, I wish to see further development to take action based on the casualty investigation report on the Costa Concordia at the coming Maritime Safety Committee. I mentioned that we cannot forget about last year’s incident involving a large scale container ship. We need to really handle that issue as well and I mentioned that we should be proactive to think about the future of the SOLAS Convention. Those issues are all provided in my New Year’s address which was recorded in our audio files and the actual text in a written format is posted on the IMO website.
The SDC Sub-Committee, in my view, was really successful. The meeting was characterized, as I mentioned at its closing, by being hard working, forward looking, cooperative, efficient and productive, while respecting the work methods currently in force. The spirit of cooperation prevailed and I wish to see that spirit of cooperation continue to prevail.
This year’s theme is “IMO conventions: effective implementation”. In this context, I want to raise two important IMO conventions. The first one is the Ballast Water Management Convention. I am sending letters to the Council Members, encouraging them to ratify it as soon as possible. I wish to encourage all IMO Members to take swift action to ratify the Ballast Water Management Convention so that we can all benefit from the adoption of the Assembly resolution at the last Assembly session in order to plan and design a new implementation schedule to start hopefully from 2016. And in this context, the timing is crucial and, in my view, this is an opportunity for every IMO Member Government to take a leadership role to move things forward.
The other convention or legal instrument is the Torremolinos Protocol on which we adopted the Cape Town Agreement. The period for simplified acceptance by the Torremolinos Protocol parties is expiring next week and, again, I urge Torremolinos Protocol parties and any relevant authorities to redouble their efforts to ratify the Cape Town Agreement.
With this statement, I move to the important issues on the agenda of the PPR Sub-Committee.
On the evaluation of safety and pollution hazards of liquid chemicals and preparation of consequential amendments to the IBC Code, I note the concerns expressed by a number of Member Governments regarding the series of incidents involving high-viscosity and persistent floating products being reported in their waters. I hope that, with the assistance of the expertise of the ESPH Working Group, the Sub-Committee will be able to make a sound suggestion to the MEPC on how to address these concerns. 
On the development of a code for the transport and handling of limited amounts of hazardous and noxious liquid substances in bulk on offshore support vessels, I urge the Sub-Committee to expedite the work on the development of the draft OSV chemical code.
On the additional guidelines for implementation of the BWM Convention, as the entry into force of the Convention is inevitably drawing closer, it is important that the Sub-Committee accelerates its work on the last remaining issues that need clarification, including the further improvement of guidance on ballast water sampling and analysis and on the use of drinking water as ballast water.
On the consideration of the impact on the Arctic of emissions of black carbon from international shipping, this work again demonstrates the Organization’s commitment to protect the marine environment and, in particular, the especially sensitive areas of the oceans; and I would urge the Sub-Committee to expedite the work at this session. Timely finalization of this output, in accordance with the work plan agreed by the MEPC, will allow the Committee to make a sound policy decision on this important matter.
On the review of relevant non-mandatory instruments as a consequence of the amended MARPOL Annex VI and the NOx Technical Code, I consider this technical work as important, since the finalization of new guidelines will support the smooth implementation of MARPOL Annex VI and the NOx Technical Code.
On the implementation of the OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol and relevant Conference resolutions, I wish to express my appreciation to the OPRC-HNS Technical Group for having developed a wide array of useful tools, manuals, training courses and other types of guidance that have been distributed and utilized worldwide to assist in the implementation of the OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol over the last 16 sessions of the group. Many of these products are the fundamental resources utilized in the delivery of IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP), for projects and activities related to OPRC and HNS. I firmly believe that the positive response received from these activities is an additional testimony of the good work carried out by the Technical Group.
Thank you.