The IMO Committee on Protection of the Marine Environment (MEPC) held its 68th Session from Monday 11 through Friday 15 May 2015 under the Chairmanship of Mr Arsenio Dominguez (PANAMA) and his Vice-Chair, Dr Naomi Parker (NEW ZEALAND). Mr Dominguez was subsequently re-elected chairman for 2016, whilst Mr Hideaki Saito (JAPAN) becomes his Vice-Chair, Dr Parker having had to withdraw her nomination for business reasons. Two Working Groups (WG) one Drafting Group (DG), one Technical Group (TG) and one Review Group (RG) were set up as follows:


WG1 Further technical and operational measures for enhancing the energy efficiency of international shipping, Mr A Chrysostomou (CYPRUS)
WG2 Air Pollution and energy efficiency, Mr K. Yoshida (JAPAN)



Amendments to mandatory instruments, Mr H Steinbock (GERMANY)

Identification and protection of Special Areas and PSSAs, Dr A Makinen (FINLAND)

RG Ballast Water Management, Mr C Wiley (CANADA)


The meeting was attended by 95 Member States plus 2 associates, 5 Inter-Governmental organisations and the remarkably high number of 52 Non-Governmental organisations.


Points of particular interest to InterManager members follow:


HARMFUL AQUATIC ORGANISMS IN BALLAST WATER. Currently, 44 Governments have contracted to the BWM Convention but the tonnage represented is still 2.14% short of the 35% required for its entry into force. As recommended by the GESAMP-Ballast Water Working Group, the Committee agreed to grant Basic Approval to 5, and Final Approval to 1, further BW Management systems that make use of Active Substances bringing the total number of type approved BWMS to 57. Of importance, the USA delegation stated that although to date no BWMS has been type approved by them, 17 manufacturers have confirmed their intention to seek type approval of which 3 are currently undergoing testing [by independent laboratory, 4 of which, from various parts of the world have been accepted]. However, it is not known when the first system will be granted type approval.




  1. Endorsed revised Methodology for information gathering and conduct of work of the GESAMP-BWWG approving its dissemination by updating an existing BWM Circular;
  2. Agreed that such revised Methodology should apply to all submissions from MEPC 71 and onwards, encouraging proponents to make early use of it;
  3. Endorsed the conclusion that maximum allowable discharge concentration of total residual oxidants of 0.2 mg/L as CL2 should be half that value from MEPC 69 onwards;
  4. Recommended that for the purpose of Procedure (G9), a 5-day period for the determination of Relevant Chemicals in treated ballast water should be maintained for future proposals for BWMS-approval, noting the agreement by the RG to consider this recommendation further in the context of the review of Guidelines (G8);
  5. Invited study on the implementation of regulation D-2 to consider whether or not operational training manuals for ships’ crew should be a standardised template and part of the type approval procedure;
  6. Noted the proposal for developing an MEPC resolution urging Member States to allow discharges of treated ballast water from ships with BWMS undergoing testing for type approval;
  7. Re-established the CG on the review of Guidelines (G8) requesting Member States and observers to provide appropriate relevant information to assist the CG;
  8. Agreed with the roadmap for the implementation of the BWM Convention and also to develop measures to facilitate its use;
  9. Invited submissions to MEPC69 on any outstanding issues identified in the roadmap with a view of finalising guidance by MEPC 70;
  10. Noted the draft amendments to regulation B-3 of the BWM Convention;
  11. Concurred with the understanding that the intentions of resolution A.1088 (28) apply also to ships operating in sea areas where ballast water exchange in accordance with regulations B-4.1 and D-1 of the BWM Convention is not possible;
  12. Invited submissions on exemptions and exceptions under the BWM Convention to its next session; and
  13. Re-established the RG for MEPC 69 having stipulated its terms of reference.


AIR POLLUTION FROM SHIPS. Following a discussion in Plenary, whilst considering a number of documents, the Committee approved the Bond et al definition of ‘Black Carbon’ for international shipping as follows:


‘Black Carbon is a distinct type of carbonaceous material, formed only in flames during combustion of carbon-based fuels. It is distinguishable from other forms of carbon and carbon compounds contained in atmospheric aerosol because it has a unique combination of physical properties:


  1. it strongly absorbs visible light with a mass absorption cross section of at least 5m2 g-1 at wavelength 550nm;
  2. it is refractory, retaining its basic form at very high temperatures with vaporisation near 4000k;
  3. it is insoluble in water and also organic solvents including methanol and acetone; also;
  4. it exists as an aggregate of small carbon spherules


The Committee next reviewed fuel oil availability and following discussion in Plenary, set up a Steering Committee comprising 13 Member States, 1 IGO and 6 NGOs with a view to submitting a final report to MEPC70. The study aims to establish whether enough 0.5% m/m maximum sulphur fuel oil will be available globally to meet the standard as required in regulation 14.8 of MARPOL Annex VI on or after 1 January 2020.


As to fuel oil quality, MEPC67 established a CG under the coordination of the USA which in addition to developing draft guidance for fuel oil quality assurance on delivery, considered the adequacy of the current legal framework in MARPOL Annex VI. The CG report was roundly criticised by Industry bodies present for its use of a ‘key element level approach’ rather than ‘best practice’ and for wrongly concluding that the legal framework for delivery is adequate, asserting it is not. The CG was nevertheless re-established and instructed to further develop draft guidance on best practice for assuring the quality of fuel oil delivered for use on board ships whilst also re-examining the grounds of claimed legal adequacy accompanying such deliveries.


Having established a WG on Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency and following due consideration of its report, the Committee:


  1. approved draft amendments to the NOx Technical Code 2008 regarding testing of gas-fuelled engines and dual fuel engines for NOx Tier III strategy, for adoption at MEPC 69;
  2. approved draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI regarding record requirements for operational compliance with NOx Tier III ECAs;
  3. instructed the Sub-Committee to review / amend the 2009 Guidelines for PSC under the revised MARPOL Annex VI;
  4. approved a draft MEPC Circular on Guidance in applying regulation 13 of MARPOL Annex VI Tier III requirements to duel fuel and gas-fuelled engines;
  5. approved draft Terms of Reference (TORS) for the oil availability review including draft TORs for the Steering Committee overseeing the review;
  6. requested the Secretariat to set the review in motion with a view to submission at MEPC 70;
  7. adopted amendments to the 2014 Guidelines on survey and certification of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and instructed the Secretariat to issue a consolidated text on the Guidelines as amended;
  8. endorsed the use of ISO 15016:2015 for ships conducting sea trials on or after 1 September 2015;
  9. agreed adoption of draft amendments to the 2013 Interim Guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions, and associated MEPC resolution;
  10. endorsed the view that there should be a phase-in period of six months after adoption;
  11. adopted amendments to the 2014 Guidelines on the method of calculation of EEDI for new ships and its associated MEPC resolution; and
  12. endorsed an updated plan for work on EEDI related issues.


FURTHER TECHNICAL AND OPERATIONAL MEASURES FOR ENHANCING THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING.  The Committee recalled that MEPC 67 re-established the Intersessional Correspondence group on the above subject and instructed it, on the basis of the outcome of MEPC 67, the report of the Working Group, and the general description of the data collection system, to develop full language for a data collection system for fuel consumption that can be readily used for voluntary or mandatory application. Following consideration of the 17 documents submitted on the issue of energy efficiency, the approach advocated by the USA of ‘data collection’, ‘data analysis’ and only then, ‘decision making’ held most sway with member States. Nevertheless, all documents submitted to this session were also forwarded to WG1 for consideration and reference, as appropriate.


Following its deliberations, WG1 invited the Committee to approve its report in general, and in particular to:


  1. agree text for its development as the full language for the data collection system for fuel consumption of ships that can be readily used for voluntary / mandatory application of the system; and
  2. agree to the establishment of an intersessional working or correspondence group on further measures for the enhancing of energy efficiency of international shipping. The Committee agreed to recommend the holding of such a meeting to Council, with simple terms of reference to:

a. further consider transport work and / or proxies for inclusion in the data collection system;

b. further consider the use of confidentiality;

c. consider the development of guidelines identified in the text; and

d. submit a written report to MEPC 69.


REDUCTION OF GHG EMISSIONS FROM SHIPS. The Marshall Islands sought to justify that the Committee should undertake the work necessary to establish a GHG emission reduction target for international shipping consistent with keeping global warming below 1.5oC, and to agree measures necessary to achieve that target. However, there was a general consensus view in Plenary that such a proposal is not aligned with the direction of current IMO efforts and could even hamper future work. Also, it is premature to agree on a reduction target for international shipping prior to the conclusion of international negotiations in the UNFCCC particularly whilst the consideration of further technical and operational measures to enhance the energy efficiency of international shipping is ongoing. Meanwhile, a meeting of UNFCCC COP 21 scheduled to be held in Paris at the end of the year is awaited with interest.


THE POLAR CODE. The Committee approved the report of the DG in general and, in particular:


  1. Concurred with an amended reference to MARPOL in the Preamble and the revised definition of MARPOL in the Introduction of the Polar Code;
  2. Adopted the Introduction and part II-A and II-B of the Polar Code, together with the associated MEPC resolution;
  3. Adopted the draft amendment to MARPOL Annexes I, II, IV and V to utilise environment-related provisions;
  4. Adopted the draft amendments to MARPOL Annex I, regulation 12, revising the provisions related to tanks for oil residues; and
  5. Approved the draft MEPC Circular on Guidance for issuing revised certificates, manuals and record books under Annexes I, II and V of MARPOL for compliance with environment-related requirements of the Code.


USE OF ELECTRONIC RECORD BOOKS. Due to time constraints, deferred to MEPC 69, but will be given priority on the agenda!


IDENTIFICATION AND PROTECTION OF SPECIAL AREAS AND PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE SEA AREAS. The TG assessed AUSTRALIA’s proposal to extend the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait PSSA to include the south-west part of the Coral Sea and having assessed that it meets the requirements of the Revised PSSA guidelines, a draft MEPC resolution was adopted, as requested.


An application for establishing effective dates for the Baltic Sea Special Area under MARPOL Annex IV provided lively exchanges given claims by some that port reception facilities remain inadequate in this Special Sea Area. Following a lengthy debate characterised by much Industry opposition, the co-sponsors of the document (MEPC 68/10/2) decided that they will now work towards adoption at MEPC 69.




Following discussion, the Committee:


  1. Agreed to change the title of its comprehensive manual on Port Reception Facilities to ‘Port Reception Facilities – How to do it’;
  2. Agreed, owing to time constraints, to defer consideration of amendments to the Manual proposed by the Basel Convention Secretariat to MEPC 69.
  3. Foresaw further consideration of the Manual at MEPC 69 by a drafting group in order to finalise it.





Captain Paddy McKnight

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