The IMO Committee Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) held its 69th Session (MEPC69) from Monday 18 through Friday 22 April 2016 under the very able Chairmanship of Mr Arsenio Domingues (PANAMA) and his Vice Chair, Mr H Saito (JAPAN).  Two Working Groups (WG), one Drafting Group (DG), one Review Group (RG) and a Technical Group (TG) were formed and chaired as follows:


WG1    Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, Mr K Yoshida (JAPAN)


WG2    Further Technical and Operational Measures, Mr H Saito (JAPAN)


DG1    Amendments to Mandatory Instruments, Mr H Steinbock (GERMANY)


RG1    Ballast Water Management, Mr C Wiley (CANADA)


TG1     PSSAs, Mr A Makinen (FINLAND)


The large meeting was attended by over 900 delegates from 107 Member Governments, 2 Associate members of IMO, 3 Representatives from UN and Specialised Agencies, 9 Inter-Governmental Organisations, 53 Non-Governmental Organisations and 1 IMO Training Institute, the WMU.


Items of particular interest to InterManager Members are highlighted as follows:


IMO SECRETARY GENERAL’S ADDRESS.  The Secretary-General-IMO, Mr K Lim, welcomed everyone.  He spoke of an array of issues facing the IMO demanding high-level policy development such as unsafe and mixed migration by sea, also domestic ferry safety;  a need to further address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping in light of the Paris agreement;  the sulphur regulation in 2020 and implementation of the BW Management and Hong Kong Conventions.  He explained his vision as one of ‘strengthened partnerships’ between developing and developed countries, between governments and industry, also IMO Member States and regions referring to it as “a voyage together”.  Almost everyone in the world today relies on shipping to some extent and the theme of World Maritime Day 2016 (26 September), ‘Shipping:  Indispensable to the World’ is thus extremely apposite.  A parallel event will be held in Turkey from 4 to 6 November.  Believing the promotion of sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development to be one of his major priorities, he picked out two landmark achievements in 2015 in the wider context of sustainable development:  the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets out the global framework to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 whilst the Paris Climate Change Agreement identifies a clear goal of ‘holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels’.


Various entities on ocean governance will influence this work, in particular the development of an internal legally-binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, emanating from the 2012 Rio +20 declarations entitled ‘The Future we Want’.  The first session of a Preparatory Committee (established by the UN General Assembly) took place recently at UNHQ from 28 March to 8 April 2016 in order to draft suitable UNCLOS text which will be reported as it develops.


The remainder of the Secretary-General’s 25 minute speech referred to his expectations on how the Committee might develop work on the BW Convention, reducing GHG emissions, the need for a data collection system to be robust and comprehensive if adopted for energy efficiency measuring and finally, his endorsement of a proposal to designate the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) located in the Sulu Sea between the islands of the Philippines and North Borneo, already inscribed on the World Heritage List but requiring additional protection.


Before concluding, the Secretary-General announced that His Excellency Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia would make a general statement to MEPC Plenary the following afternoon.


AMENDMENTS TO MANDATORY INSTRUMENTS.  As recommended by RG1, the Committee adopted draft amendments to:


  1. MARPOL Annex II, appendix I, related to the revised GESAMP hazard evaluation procedure and associated MEPC resolution;
  2. MARPOL Annex VI, related to record requirements for operational compliance with NOx Tier III emission control areas and associated MEPC resolution;
  3. The NOx Technical Code 2008 related to the testing of gas-fuelled and dual fuel engines, and associated MEPC resolution;
  4. MARPOL Annex IV (Baltic Sea Special Area and Form of International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate) together with associated MEPC resolution; and,
  5. The draft MEPC resolution on the establishment of the date on which regulation 11.3 of MARPOL Annex IV in respect of the Baltic Sea Special Area shall take effect.


HARMFUL AQUATIC ORGANISMS IN BALLAST WATER.  To date 49 States with an aggregate 34.79% of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage have acceded to the BWM Convention, just 0.21% short of the entry into force condition but with further ratifications in the pipeline, there is every expectation that it will be reached during the current year.  Entry into force of the Convention will therefore in all probability occur during 2017 [despite the many current uncertainties surrounding the implementation of measures for ballast water management].


REPORT OF THE BALLAST WATER REVIEW GROUP (RG1).  Regarding organisational arrangements related to the evaluation and approval of BWMS following the Seventh Stocktaking Workshop of the GESAMP-BWMG, the Committee acted as follows:


  1. Endorsed the Workshop’s recommendations regarding the neutralisation process and control scheme aimed at maintaining the MADC effectively in the full-scale BWMS at all times.
  2. Endorsed recommendations regarding testing arrangements for Basic and Final Approval in conjunction with the anticipated amendments to tank holding time requirements under Guidelines (G8) but to take RG1’s concerns into account in the future work on reviewing their methodology;
  3. Agreed that applicants for approval of BWMS making use of Active Substances may propose two worst-case concentrations of Relevant Chemicals;
  4. Requested GESAMP-BWWG to, within the scope of the ongoing review of Guidelines (G8), continue discussing the consequences of allowing upgrades of BWMS which are recommended by the Committee when granting Final Approval under Procedure (G9), to be made prior to type approval;
  5. Encouraged Member Governments and international organisations to submit information on results of measuring dissolved organic material using relevant measurement methods, including Specific UV Absorbance at 254nm, both on natural water and test water;
  6. Agreed to, if it decides in the future on the mandatory application of Guidelines (G8), take any necessary action with regard to the possible need to categorise Procedure (G9) to being mandatory as well;
  7. Approved in principle, amendments to section 7.1 of the Methodology (BWM.2/Circ.13/Rev.3) based on the ‘Performance standard for protective coatings for the dedicated seawater ballast tanks in all types of ships and double-skin spaces of bulk carriers’ (PSPC) to be incorporated into the next revision of the Methodology;
  8. Noted GESAMP-BWWG intention to immediately start applying the new criteria for corrosion testing set out in annex 3 of the report instead of the previous higher criteria in its evaluation of proposals for approval of BWMS making use of Active Substances;
  9. Endorsed the Workshops recommendations requiring applicants to include specific information on protective equipment and to use the suggested detection limits for Relevant Chemicals (MEPC69/4/3Annex 4); and
  10. Requested GESAMP-BWWG to develop criteria for when BWMS using drinking water should seek approval in accordance with Procedure (G9), taking into consideration the discussion at MEPC65 and especially the chlorination of drinking water in this regard.


With regard to the Review of Guidelines (G8), the Committee noted the progress made, and in agreeing with the proposed way forward,  the intersessional Correspondence Group on the review of Guidelines (G8) was re-established, to be coordinated by the UK, reporting to MEPC70.  Further an intersessional working group on the review of Guidelines (G8) will be held from 17-21 October 2016 subject to endorsement by Council (C116).


AIR POLLUTION AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY.   Regarding implementation of resolution MEPC.229(65) on Promotion of technical co-operation and transfer of technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships, the Committee considered document 69/5 (Chairman of the Ad Hoc Expert Working Group on Facilitation of Transfer of Technology for Ships (IT-EG)).  It summarised the full report on the four tasks identified, containing a set of recommendations for the implementation of the regulations on energy efficiency for ships.  This concluded the group’s work which included a Model Agreement between Governments on technological co-operation for the implementation of the regulations in chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI.




FUEL OIL QUALITY.  Following discussion, the Committee encouraged the fuel oil supply industry to develop draft best practice for fuel oil providers, taking into account documents MEPC69/5/3 Annex1, and submit this best practice for consideration by the Committee at a future session.  Similarly, fuel oil purchasers and fuel oil users were likewise encouraged to develop best practice using Annex 2 of the same document, MEPC69/5/3 as the basis.  Finally best practice for Member States / Coastal States begged a response and it was subsequently agreed that it should do so, using MEPC69/5/3 Annex 3 as the basis of  reporting to MEPC.  In this regard, the Committee noted that such best practice guidance should not go beyond the requirement of MARPOL Annex VI by imposing obligations that are not included in the Annex.


RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CG ON FUEL OIL QUALITY.  The Committee re-established the Correspondence Group on Fuel Oil Quality under the coordination of the USA.


REVIEW OF FUEL OIL AVAILABILITY AS REQUIRED BY REGULATION 14.8 OF MARPOL ANNEX VI.  The Committee considered document MEPC 69/5/4 (Steering Committee Coordinator), providing a progress report on the review of oil availability following the four SC meetings held so far.  Following discussion, the Committee noted that, in accordance with the agreed terms of reference, the review is expected to complete in time for reporting to MEPC 70.  The Committee agreed also, in principle, that a final decision should be taken at MEPC70 on the date of the implementation of the 0.5% sulphur limit so that maritime administrations and the industry, can prepare and plan accordingly.


SULPHUR MONITORING PROGRAMME.  Based on data from the four sampling and testing service providers, the 2015 worldwide average sulphur content (i.e. three-year rolling average) of residual fuel oil was 2.45% and of distillate fuel oil, 0.11%.  An amendment to the 2010 Guidelines for monitoring the worldwide average sulphur content of fuel oils supplied for use on board ships (resolution MEPC.192(61) was also made and duly adopted.


ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF SHIPS.  Having considered the report of WG1, the Committee approved it in general and took action as follows:


  1. Noted WG1’s view on the time-line of the EEDI review work to be finalised by MEPC 70; and that the considerations of minimum propulsion power for maintaining manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions required under regulation 21.5 of MARPOL Annex VI should be considered separately from the EEDI review process.
  2. Having considered the draft terms of reference for the CG on EEDI review required under Regulation 21.6 of MARPOL Annex VI, as proposed by WG1, instructed the CG to, take into account the interim report of the CG and the result of discussions at MEPC 69:


> For ro-ro cargo and ro-ro passenger ships, consider the technological developments based on information obtained from the EEDI database, as updated.

> recommend within the current revision process whether the time periods, the EEDI reference line parameters for relevant ship types and the reduction rates set out in regulation 21 should be retained or amended.

> further review the correction factors for ice class ships, ro-ro cargo and ro-ro passenger ships, with a view to prepare draft amendments to the 2014 Guidelines on calculation of the attained EEDI for new ships and the 2013 Guidelines for calculation of reference lines for use with the EED Index:

> submit a report to MEPC70.


FURTHER TECHNICAL AND OPERATIONAL MEASURES FOR ENHANCING THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING.    The Committee recalled that MEPC 68 agreed an intersessional meeting of the Working Group on further technical and operational measures for enhancing energy efficiency from 9 – 11 September 2015 with terms of reference to further consider:


> transport work and / or proxies for inclusion in the data collection system;

> the issue of confidentiality;

> the development of guidelines identified in the text;  and

> submit a written report to MEPC 69.


The Committee approved the report of the intersessional meeting of the Working Group (MEPC69/6) in general, having noted that, as instructed, the group had further developed the full language for the data collection system for fuel consumption that can be readily used for a voluntary, or mandatory, application of the system.  In considering the ‘Actions Requested’ in the intersessional report, the Committee responded to para 65:


  1. Agreed that data forwarded from administrations to the IMO did not need to be anonymised but should include the IMO number, also recalled that such data needs to be confidential and not publicly available;
  2. Agreed the need to establish how such data can be presented to ensure anonymity;
  3. Endorsed the group’s recommendation that the parameter ‘distance travelled’ should be collected and defined ‘berth to berth’;
  4. ‘Service hours’ should be collected and defined as ‘hours not at berth’;
  5. For ship types which carry cargo, ‘design DWT’ should be used as a proxy of ‘cargo weight / volume’;
  6. In shipping sectors where no cargo is carried, further consideration is required to ascertain operational energy efficiency.
  7. JAPAN submitted proposals for amendment to the SEEMP Guidelines to be considered by MEPC69;
  8. No proposals were received by the group for guidelines on transfer of owner /Administration to this session;  and
  9. Agreed amendments to the full language set out in Annex 1 to reflect agreements made ‘For the data collection system for fuel consumption that can be readily used for voluntary or mandatory application of the systems’. (Note:  MANDATORY subsequently chosen)


WG2 reported its deliberations on ‘Further Technical and Operational measures for enhancing the energy efficiency of international shipping’ to which the Committee:


  1. Approved draft amendments to Chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI regarding a data collection system for fuel consumption, with a view to adoption at MEPC 70;
  2. Noted the need for a MEPC circular to be developed to provide information to Member Governments that are not a party to MARPOL Annex VI on the collection and supply of data from non-party ships;
  3. Noted further work identified by the group; and
  4. Agreed terms of reference for a correspondence group co-ordinated by Japan, reporting to MEPC 70.


REDUCTION OF GHG EMISSIONS FROM SHIPS.  Following discussion in Plenary, the Committee:


  1. Welcomed the Paris Climate Agreement;
  2. Recognised and commended current efforts to enhance the energy efficiency of ships;
  3. Agreed that further appropriate improvements related to shipping emissions can and should be pursued;
  4. Recognised the role of IMO in mitigating the impact of GHG emissions from international shipping;
  5. Agreed the need to approve and adopt a data collection system as a priority at this session;
  6. Reiterated endorsement of the three-step approach comprising data collection, analysis and decision making; and
  7. Agreed to establish a working group under this item at MEPC 70.


USE OF ELECTRONIC RECORD BOOKS.  The Committee recalled that MEPC 66 re-established a CG on the use of electronic books under MARPOL, instructing it to finalise the draft Guidance currently under development.  To further facilitate the use of electronic record books, the CG was also instructed to prepare any necessary amendments and / or unified interpretations to MARPOL;  and finally, consequential amendments to the ‘Procedures for Port State Control, 2011 (Resolution A.1052(27))’.  MEPC68 deferred the item to this session and paper MEPC68/9, the report of the CG was considered, in particular the actions requested.


GUIDANCE FOR THE USE OF ELECTRONIC RECORD BOOKS UNDER MARPOL.  It was recalled that MEPC65 originally established the CG to prepare such draft guidance, taking into account the ongoing work of the FAL Committee on electronic access to certificates and documents.  In order to finalise the Guidance, three issues were highlighted, namely:


  1. the language to be used that most appropriately conveys the non-mandatory character of the Guidance;
  2. appropriate text to clarify the position of MARPOL inspections and enforcement in relation to the use of electronic record books; and
  3. the flexibility permitted in relation to the format or layout of an electronic book.


LANGUAGE TO BE USED.  It was agreed that ‘should’ conveys the mandatory character of the Guidance and should be used.


MARPOL INSPECTION AND ENFORCEMENT.  It was agreed to retain the sentence within the draft Guidance:  ‘The use of and reliance upon electronic record books in no way relieves shipowners of their existing duty to accurately maintain and produce record books during an inspection, as required by MARPOL’.


FLEXIBILITY OF FORMAT AND LAYOUT.  The Committee agreed that, in principle, the format of an electronic record book should follow the format specified in MARPOL but  given the diverging views of Members, recognized that it deserved further consideration.  Consequently, this was referred to IMO Sub-Committee PPR4 which is specifically instructed to:


  1. consider whether or not the forms of record books in MARPOL can be accommodated in electronic formats; and
  2. explore the extent of flexibility when transferring the forms of record books under MARPOL into electronic formats.


PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE PROCEDURES FOR PORT STATE CONTROL, 2011.    In line with discussions on ‘Guidance’ the Committee agreed to use ‘should’ throughout the text of the proposed amendments to the ‘Procedures for Port State Control, 2011’.  PPR4 was instructed to prepare any consequential amendments to the 2011 PSC Guidelines based on its consideration of the issues of flexibility of the format and finalise the 2011 PSC amendments as appropriate.


DRAFT UNIFIED INTERPRETATIONS (UIs) TO MARPOL ANNEXES I, II, V AND VI.  The CG proposed draft UIs to each of the relevant MARPOL Annexes in order to facilitate the use of electronic record books.  The Committee noted that the majority of the CG agreed that the proposed UIs to MARPOL present a short-term solution and concluded that the most appropriate longer term mechanism for allowing the use of electronic record books would be the development of relevant amendments to MARPOL, instructing PPR4 to develop such draft amendments.


CONSIDERATION OF PERMITTING ADDITIONAL ELECTRONIC RECORD BOOKS.  The Committee considered the CG suggestions that the record book of engine parameters be presented as an electronic record book and the preparation of subsequent amendments to the NOx Technical Code, 2008, also that consideration should be given to permitting the Cargo Gear Record Book, required under ILO Convention No 152 concerning occupational safety and health in dock work, to be presented in electronic form.  PPR4 was instructed accordingly.




DESIGNATION OF A PSSA.   In line with the recommendation by TG1, the Committee designated the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park as a PSSA (Particularly Sensitive Sea Area), in principle, with a view to final designation at MEPC 71 in 2017.


ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EFFECTIVE DATES AND OTHER ISSUES RELATED TO THE BALTIC SEA SPECIAL AREA UNDER MARPOL ANNEX IV.   The delegation of the RUSSIAN FEDERATION declared that there are adequate reception facilities for the collection of sewage from passenger ships in the Russian ports of the Baltic Sea;  consequently, the Committee confirmed that, in light of the information provided by the nine Baltic States at MEPC68 and at this session, sufficient notification regarding the availability of port reception facilities for sewage in the Baltic Special Sea Area had been received and that that effective dates could be established for the Special Area provisions.  The Committee adopted the draft MEPC resolution on the establishment of the date on which regulation 11.3 of MARPOL Annex IV in respect of the Baltic Sea Special Area regarding reception facilities shall take effect.


It should be noted that despite the above, the delegation of the BAHAMAS expressed strong reservations as to whether comprehensive and sufficient port reception facilities are in place to support the Special Area.




REVISION OF THE MANUAL ON  PORT RECEPTION FACILITIES.  The Committee approved the manual ‘Port Reception facilities – How to do it’ and subject to final editorial refinements, it will be published through the IMO Publishing Service.


PORT RECEPTION FACILITIES FOR CARGOES DECLARED AS HARMFUL TO THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT (HME).  The Committee did not approve a proposal to extend the application of MEPC.1/Circ.810 which until 31 December 2015, under certain conditions, permitted cargo hold wash water from holds previously containing solid bulk cargoes classified as HME to be discharged outside special areas.  Those delegations that supported the issuance of a new circular were of the view that problems experienced by shipowners and operators in finding adequate reception facilities needed to be addressed, preferably by the extension of the application of circular MEPC.1/Circ.810, until ports / terminals had fulfilled their obligation under   MARPOL Annex V to provide adequate reception facilities.  INTERCARGO informed the Committee that they had conducted a survey on the availability of reception facilities for HME residues, which indicated that, of the 204 ports in 55 countries/regions surveyed, 181 ports were reported by bulk carriers with difficulties in finding adequate port reception facilities for HME cargo residues and for hold washing water containing HME substances, while only 23 ports were confirmed as having adequate reception facilities.  However, the majority of delegations was of the view that an increased number of port reception facilities for HME residues is in place in ports / terminals and that the proposed extension of the application of MEPC.1/Circ.810 would not only discourage ports / terminals to provide the needed reception facilities but might even prove to be a disincentive.


DATE OF NEXT MEETING.   MEPC70 has been tentatively scheduled to take place from 24 to 28 October 2016.


Captain Paddy McKnight                                                                                                        End



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