The IMO’s Committee on Marine Environment Protection held its 63rd Session at IMO Headquarters on Monday 27 February through Friday 2 March 2012. Mr Andreas Chrysostomou (Cyprus) chaired, whilst Mr Arsenio Dominguez (Panama), who was re-elected at the meeting, was also present. Ninety Eight delegations submitted credentials for this 63rd session.

Following is a short summary of salient points on items of greatest interest to members:
• Harmful Aquatic Organisms in Ballast Water. Where to start … 10 submissions for either Basic or Final Approval of Bio Systems have been received by the GESAMP-BWWG of which 7 have been processed and the remaining 3 will be evaluated using an updated methodology at its extraordinary meeting of the group on 16 through 20 April 2012. The total number of type-approved systems has increased to 21 and the estimated value of the global market for purchasing and installing BWM systems may reach $50 to $74 billion as estimated by IMAREST. In its excellent paper MEPC 63/2/17, JAPAN provided data on the availability of BWM systems for installation on ships controlled by Japanese interests. Many delegations expressed concerns regarding the implementation of the BWM Convention due to lack of approved technologies, limited shipyard capacity, time availability and the costs involved, suggesting that the application dates in Regulation 3 of the BWM Convention may have to be reconsidered. Others argued that there are sufficient BW treatment technologies and shipyard capacity and encouraged shipowners to start installing BWM systems on their ships early in order to avoid possible bottlenecks at a later stage, this despite the observations by BAHAMAS that we don’t even know what the sampling or checking procedure will be! The Committee agreed to the use of a Japanese template inviting Member States to provide updated information to the BW Review Group in order to facilitate on informed analysis of the implementation process. Finally, five more States (Lebanon, Mongolia, Montenegro, Palau, also Trinidad and Tobago) have acceded to the BWM Convention in the past year, bringing the number of contracting Governments to 33, representing 26.46 per cent of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage.
• Recycling of Ships. In October 2011, COP 10 (Conference of the Parties) of the Basel Convention met in Colombia where consensus could not be reached on the issue of equivalency between the Hong Kong Convention and that of the Basel Convention. However, it encouraged the ratification of the Hong Kong Convention for its early entry into force whilst acknowledging that the Basel Convention should continue to assist countries to apply the Basel Convention as it relates to ships. The intersessional correspondence group on ship recycling guidelines, under the co-ordination of Japan was re-established to further develop the draft text of the Guidelines for Survey under the Hong Kong Convention for consideration at FSI 21 (March 2013).
• Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency. The Working Group on Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency finalised 4 sets of guidelines and associated resolutions which were endorsed by the Committee, namely: (i) The method of calculation of the EEDI (Energy Efficiency Design Index). (ii) Guidelines for the development of a SEEMP (Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan). (iii) Guidelines on survey and certification of the EEDI, and (iv) Guidelines for the calculation of reference lines. A protracted debate took place over a draft MEPC Resolution on ‘Capacity-building, technical assistance and transfer of technology related to energy efficiency measures for ships’. Opinions were essentially split between developing and developed countries leading to the establishment of a WG, the output of which did not gain committee consensus resulting in further deferment of the draft Resolution discussion to MEPC 64.
• Reduction of GHG emissions from Ships. Following consideration of the WG report on GHG Emissions from Ships from its third Intersessional Meeting, which was dedicated to further work on MBM’s (Market Based Measures), it was concluded that there is a need for further study of both the direct and indirect impacts on developing countries due to the introduction or non-introduction of an MBM for international shipping under IMO. Such an impact assessment would involve substantial gathering of trade and other data as well as computer modelling and would need to be undertaken by relevant consultants with appropriate multi-discipline expertise and experience at a cost estimates to be between US$5000,000 and $700,000. The assessment should be commissioned by the S-G IMO based on terms of reference and criteria adopted by the Committee at its present session and overseen by a Steering Committee with open representation. Member States will be encouraged to contribute financially towards the cost, adding to the 6 which have already pledged. All MBM proposals should be further developed and finalised in time for MEPC 64 so that they can be evaluated against the stated criteria. It was agreed in line with INTERCARGO’s submission that the EEDI, developed and intended for new ships only, should NOT be applied to existing ships and should certainly not be manipulate within the context of any proposed MBM.
• Inadequacy of Reception Facilities. ISO informed the Committee of the development of an international standard for waste handling and segregation on board ships, and another international standard for waste handling and segregation at port reception facilities.
• Role of the Human Element. The Committee agreed, in principle, to entrust a co-ordinating strategic role to address the Human Element to the STW sub-committee, subject to review. However, the Committee could refer Human Element matters relating to environmental issues directly to the Working Group which would not necessitate further discussion in the plenary of the STW sub-committee. It was also clarified that matters relating to the ISM Code, which was mandatory under the SOLAS Convention, were within the purview of the Maritime Safety Committee. Accordingly, the STW sub-committee could consider matters relating to the ISM Code, as agreed by MSC 89.

Captain Paddy McKnight


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