MARINE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION COMMITTEE (MEPC), 64th SESSION 1-5 October 2012

The IMO MEPC held its 64th Session at IMO from Monday 1 through Friday 5 October under the Chairmanship of Mr Andreas Chrysostomou (Cyprus). He, together with his Vice-Chairman, Mr Arsenio Dominguez (Panama) also present, were re-elected for 2013. This was a big meeting, attendance being in the order of 900 delegates. However, thanks to good forward planning and a brisk Chairman, the extensive agenda was completed in a timely manner. A Review Group on Ballast Water matters was formed together with 3 Working Groups on the subjects of Ship Recycling, Technical Co-Operation and Transfer of Technology, also Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency. In addition, 2 Drafting Groups studied Amendments to the IBC Code and Interpretations/Reports of sub-committees. Finally, an informal Technical Group met out-of-hours to report on the Saba Bank PSSA.

Following is a short summary of salient agenda items of most interest to Intermanager Members:

• HARMFUL AQUATIC ORGANISMS IN BALLAST WATER. This was undoubtedly the item of most concern to the shipping industry; 35 submitted papers demonstrated the importance attached to it by Member States, and the industry. Three more States, Denmark, Niue and the Russian Federation have acceded to the BWM Convention since MEPC 63, with Argentina, Belgium and Germany due to submit their instruments of ratification in the near future. However, the current number of 36 contracting governments, representing 29.07% of world tonnage, is still 6% short of the figure required for implementation. Although the total number of type-approved BWM systems has risen to 28, lack of confidence by Shipowners to install BW systems was acknowledged by the Secretary-General in his opening address whilst he hoped that ‘teething problems’ would be resolved at this session of MEPC. In its paper MEPC 64/2/16, ICS agreed with the Secretary-General IMO that relatively few BWM systems have been fitted to ships to date, the corollary being that a huge number of them will be required to be installed in a very short time once the convention comes into force. ICS therefore proposed that this could be alleviated by accepting that all ships constructed prior to entry into force of the Convention should be determined ‘existing ships’ and that the implementation schedule could be at the ship’s next special, or full term 5 year survey rather than the next ‘intermediate’ or full term survey as currently stipulated in regulation B-3. Although this proposal enjoyed the support of some delegations, others opposed it, in particular that of any changes to the implementation date based on the fact that sufficient Type Approved systems are available and currently being installed on board ships. Caution was also expressed against pre-empting the intentions of the Parties to the Convention in that any amendments to the Convention can only be made after the entry into force of the instrument. Following an extensive debate, the delegation of Japan was requested to provide draft terms of reference for a Correspondence Group to undertake the development of an Assembly resolution to address such concerns. A further spirited intervention on behalf of the Industry by ICS called for greater robustness in the approval of BWM systems, recognising that some Type Approved treatment systems may not operate consistently and reliably in all normal water conditions. A number of suggestions for improving the G8 guidelines were made, notably that of testing in all water salinities, assessing the effect of temperature on the treatment process, specifying standard test organisms that suitably challenge the treatment process, ensuring that claimed flow rates can be achieved and the discounting of test run treatment failures. However, the Review Group deemed that a new set of amendments to Guidelines (G8) is not necessary at this stage, though BAHAMAS and INTERTANKO did not agree with this assertion. It was recalled that BLG17 will take place less than 13 weeks before MEPC 65 which convenes during the week commencing 13 May 2013 and so urgent matters related to ballast water management emanating from BLG17 will be reported to MEPC 65. A request from Plenary to collate all BWM documents ‘in one place’ was duly acknowledged by the Secretariat.

• RECYCLING OF SHIPS. The Committee adopted 2012 ‘Guidelines for the Survey and Certification of Ships under the Hong Kong Convention’, also ‘Guidelines for the Inspection of Ships under the Hong Kong Convention’ in two new Resolutions. An intersessional correspondence group on ship recycling, under the co-ordination of the United States was approved. Its terms of reference instruct it to:
(1) Develop threshold values and exemptions applicable to the materials to be listed in The Inventories of Hazardous Materials and consider the need to amend accordingly the 2011 ‘Guidelines for the development of the inventory of hazardous materials’, also
(2) Report the outcome of its deliberations to MEPC 65.

• AIR POLLUTION AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY. A total of 46 submissions, plus a further 9 information papers, were tabled on this issue. As intimated earlier, a big meeting! This extensive agenda item was divided into 3, namely ‘Draft MEPC Resolutions’, ‘Air Pollution from Ships’ and ‘Energy Efficiency for Ships’.

DRAFT MEPC RESOLUTION
.1 An MEPC resolution on Promotion of Technical Co-operation and Transfer of Technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships was drafted to incorporate CBDR, transfer of technology and funding. Although the Working Group made some progress, agreement was not achieved and the resulting text has [too] many square brackets. However, this will provide the basis for discussion at MEPC 65. It should be noted that CBDR (Common But Differentiated Responsibility) is a UNFCC approach, whereas that of its fellow UN Body, the IMO, prefers ‘no more favourable treatment’. This fundamental difference of approach makes agreement elusive, if not unobtainable.

AIR POLLUTION FROM SHIPS
.2 Draft Unified Interpretations (UI’s) were approved for the definition of ‘new ships’ and for that of ‘major conversion’.
.3 In assessing the availability of fuel oil under MARPOL Annex VI, ICS proposed a pilot exercise to validate the model chosen using the introduction of the next ECA phase in 2015 as a test case. However, other delegations, (led by the USA) felt that such a study could not provide additional certainty with respect to the availability of compliant fuel oil and interested delegations were invited to submit proposals to MEPC 66.
.4 The USA-led correspondence group on Tier III NOx emission standards reported substantial progress in evaluating promising technologies, most notably that of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). A final report will be made to MEPC 65.
.5 The Committee noted the report of a study, undertaken by Lloyds Register, on the treatment of Ozone Depleting Substances used to service ships. The Secretariat will continue to liaise with the Ozone Secretariat and provide an update on the work of the Montreal Protocol at its next session to facilitate the Committees deliberations on this issue.
.6 The worldwide sulphur content of marine fuel oils supplied to ships in 2011 averaged 2.65% and that of distillate 0.14%.
.7 Amendments to the 2011 Guidelines for certification of engines using the SCR system proposed by EUROMOT were not supported.
.8 It was agreed that, since ports equipped with on-shore power supply are limited, mandatory requirement for such supply should not be developed at this stage.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY FOR SHIPS
.9 It was agreed that a UI on the timing for existing ships to keep on board a SEEMP should be developed by the Working Group on Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, whilst clarifying the applicability of the SEEMP to platforms and drilling rigs. Similarly, the WG was tasked to develop a UI for dedicated fruit juice carriers whilst considering them as refrigerated cargo carriers.
.10 Subject to concurrent decision at MSC 91, a draft MEPC-MSC Circular was drawn up as interim guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions.
.11 Regarding Speed Trial and Model Test, it was agreed to produce Interim Guidelines for trial use, disseminated as an MEPC Circular to encapsulate the differing views of GREECE, CHINA and JAPAN.
.12 MEPC 63 agreed to establish a validation group under the STCW convention to review and update a draft model course on energy-efficient operation of ships for consideration at MEPC 65. The draft course (at Annex to MEPC 63/INF.10) by WMU, has been forwarded to the validation group for comment.
.13 Guidelines for calculation of the EEDI will continue to be developed by the intersessional working group on Energy Efficiency Measures for Ships. An amendment to the 2012 Guidelines method of calculation of EEDI for new ships was approved by the Committee as set out in an MEPC Resolution.
.14 A proposal for an enhanced SEEMP (SEEMP plus) was considered but given that the SEEMP implementation date is imminent, i.e. 1 January 2013, it was adjudged premature and will be kept in abeyance for discussion at a future session.
.15 JAPAN agreed to further development draft guidance for the assessment of innovative energy efficiency technologies in calculation and verification of the attained EEDI in co-operation with other interested members.
• REDUCTION OF GHG EMISSIONS FROM SHIPS. It was noted that uncertainty exists in the estimates and projections of emissions from international shipping, thus highlighting a need for reliable, robust and credible data with which to address GHG emissions. Ideally, this should be undertaken together with UNFCCC, taking into account work developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The need for information on the actual fuel consumption of ships was voiced, stressing the need for a bottom-up (ship activity) approach to the emission estimate in addition to the traditional top-down analysis. An ‘expert workshop’ to be held during 2013 was proposed (and member states donations sought) to consider further the methodology and assumptions to be used in the update.
MARKET BASED MEASURES were once again kicked into the long grass for further debate at MEPC 65 in view of time constraints and following comments by some delegates on the urgent need to finalise the draft MEPC resolution on promotion of technical co-operation and transfer of technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships. This would provide financial, technological and capacity-building support from developed countries for the implementation of regulations on such energy efficiency for ships in developing countries. As noted earlier in this report, Members of the relevant Working Group understandably could not agree on a suitably worded MEPC Resolution.

• IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OPRC CONVENTION AND THE OPRC-HNS PROTOCOL. Delegations were urged to submit information on HNS pollution incidents in order to further expand the inventory of information resources on OPRC-HNS-related matters. Note was taken of progress made in the refinement of guidelines for managing and co-ordinating international offers of assistance in the event of a major oil pollution incident.
A ‘maritime emergency response and salvage co-ordination unit’ (MERCU) has been implemented in the ROPME (Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment) Sea Area which will be ‘financed by contributions from the shipping industry’. The observer from ROPME explained that the fee will be in the form of a modest service charge.
The M/T STOLT VALOR incident, which was a significant HNS incident that occurred in the ROPME Sea Area (Persian Gulf) in March 2012 was discussed. Industry delegations expressed concern at the delay in identifying a place of refuge for the ship and expressed their dismay at the arrest orders initiated against the ship’s Master and Chief Engineer which totally repudiate the principles enshrined in IMO Resolutions A.949 (23) and (24) regarding refuge for ships and fair treatment of seafarers. ROPE/MEMAR rejected such criticism by the Industry and stated also that given the nature of the cargo, the ship represented a very serious threat to the highly sensitive coastal area and to a number of water intakes, in particular many desalination and power plants in the vicinity which dictated that the risk to the safety of a 15m population left them no choice on how best to act. However, ROPME/MEMAR expressed its willingness to share the information and lessons learned with full transparency once the legal and technical investigation into the incident is completed.

• INADEQUACY OF RECEPTION FACILITIES. No papers were submitted under this agenda item, however, the Committee noted that the policy of ‘zero tolerance of illegal discharges from ships’ can only be effectively enforced when there are adequate reception facilities in ports, which many of them currently lack. It was agreed that all parties to the MARPOL Convention, in particular port States, should do their utmost to fulfil their treaty obligations in providing reception facilities for wastes generated during the operation of ships. An IMO Regional Workshop will be held in Antwerp, Belgium from 27 to 29 November 2012 concerning best practices in the field of port reception facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues.

• GUIDELINES ON IMPLEMENTATION OF EFFICIENT STANDARDS AND PEERFORMANCE TESTS FOR SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANTS. It was noted that DE56 had completed its work on the draft 2012 Guidelines on standards and tests for STP’s, however it had been unable to stipulate an agreed level for the removal of nitrogen and phosphorous in STP’s installed on passenger ships operating in MARPOL Annex IV Special Areas. Two options were considered based on equivalent shore-side target limits for communities of either 300 to 2,000 persons or 2,000 to 10,000 persons. Following quite a long and somewhat heated discussion over the 2 options on the removal standards for nitrogen and phosphorous, there was a very slight majority (of member States) in favour of the more stringent standard. The Chairman took note of the fact that equipment designed to cope with such a standard (claimed possible by 2016 and described by industry members as ‘aspirational’) has yet to be conceived, let alone manufactured. Accordingly, he proposed a review to be undertaken at MEPC 67, in the second half of the year 2014 to which the Committee assented.

• DRAFT CODE FOR RECOGNISED ORGANISATIONS (RO CODE). The Committee approved a draft Code for recognised organisations with a view to adoption at MEPC 65, subject to a concurrent positive decision by MSC 91.

• OUTCOME OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. The ‘Rio + 20’ Conference took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 – 22 June 2012 marking the 20th Anniversary of the Rio Conference of 1992. In his opening speech to the Conference, the Secretary General IMO defined eight key elements or ‘pillars’ on which IMO’s Sustainable Development Goals for shipping and the maritime industries should focus:
1. safety culture and environmental stewardship;
2. energy efficiency;
3. new technology and innovation;
4. maritime education and training;
5. maritime security and anti-piracy actions;
6. maritime traffic management;
7. maritime infrastructure development; and
8. implementation of global standards developed, adopted and maintained by IMO.
Of note was a statement by the Chinese delegation that ‘in the process of making international regulations, any measures should be practicable and feasible as well as alleviating any potential negative impact to it’.
• HARMFUL ANTI-FOULING SYSTEMS FOR SHIPS. In force since 17 September 2008, the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships has 62 parties representing 80.33% of world tonnage. However no documents were submitted to this session and neither was there any news of fresh signatories.

• TECHNICAL CO-OPERATION SUB-PROGRAMME FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE MARITIME ENVIRONMENT. Information was provided concerning technical co-operation activities relating to the protection of the marine environment under the Integrated Technical Co-Operation Programme (ITCP) as well as under the major projects financed through external sources. The Committee also noted that, during the period under review, significant progress has been achieved through the major projects, namely the Marine Electronic Highway Demonstration Project; the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloBallast Partnerships project and its related initiatives, including the Global Industry Alliance (GIA); the GI WACAF project which aims at assisting the West, Central and Southern African region in implementing the OPRC Convention; the IMO-KOICA Project on building capacities in East Asian countries to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships; the feasibility study on LNG-fuelled short-sea and coastal shipping in the wider Caribbean region; the IMO-KOICA-PEMSEA project on environmental sensitivity mapping in the gulf of Thailand and the EU-funded SAFEMED II project, implemented by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) on behalf of IMO.

• ROLE OF THE HUMAN ELEMENT. It was re-affirmed that the STW Sub-Committee remains entrusted with a leading and co-ordinating role for the implementation of IMO’s strategy to address the Human Element. The HE concerns relating to environmental matters issued directly to the Join MSC/MEPC Working Group on the Human Element may be considered without further discussion in the plenary of the STW Sub-Committee.

• FUTURE DATES FOR MEPC MEETINGS. MEPC 65 will be held from 13 – 17 May 2013, whilst MEPC 66 and MEPC 67 are tentatively scheduled for March 2014 and October 2014 respectively.

• MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS-RAISING POSTERS. The Sargasso Sea was chosen as the first of a series of similar proposed posters conveying concerns about the impact of ships on the fauna and flora of such unique regions.

• IACS UNIFIED INTERPRETATIONS (UIs). The Committee was informed of a recent addition to information on the IACS website related to simple and free-of-charge access to UIs, consisting of a new spreadsheet that provides a means of linking UIs to MARPOL, MEPC Circulars and other IMO instruments.

• IDENTIFICATION AND PROTECTION OF SPECIAL AREAS AND PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE SEA AREAS (PSSAs). An MEPC resolution was adopted designating the Saba Bank in the Caribbean as a PSSA.

Captain Paddy McKnight

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