The IMO Council held its 117th Session (C117) from Monday 5 through Thursday 8 December 2016 chaired by Mr J Lantz (USA).  The meeting focused on issues of governance and good practice in addition to Strategy, Planning and Reform, Resource Management and Budget matters.  A Working Group on the Development of a new strategic framework was formed, chaired by Miss Katy Ware (UK) which subsequently responded back to the Committee.  Following is a short report seeking to highlight items of most relevance to InterManager business.


  • CREDENTIALS. The Secretary General reported that the credentials of all Council delegations had been received and found in good order.


  • RULES AND PROCEDURES OF THE COUNCIL.  Amendments were made to introduce gender-neutral language by replacing all references to ‘Chairman’ with the term ‘Chair’ and ‘Vice-Chairman’ with the term ‘Vice-Chair’ and in addition , all sentences containing the pronouns ‘he’, ‘him’ and ‘his’ will be rephrased.




  1. Noted the progress made in audits for 2016 and 2017;
  2. Invited those Member States that have been audited to authorise the Secretariat for the release of any of the reports and corrective action plans from audits carried out; and,
  3. Invited Member States to designate an individual person, authorised to receive access to Member State audit reports through the GISIS module.


  • REPORT OF THE MARITIME ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION COMMITTEE (MEPC). The Chairman of MEPC, Mr Arsenio Dominguez summarised the outcome of MEPC 70 in which he highlighted the most important achievements of the 70th session of his Committee as follows:


  1. Amendments to MARPOL Annexes I, V and VI adopted by MEPC. Of particular importance being the adoption of a mandatory data collection system for fuel oil consumption of ships, requiring them to record and report such data.  The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 March 2018 and reporting of data would then start in 2020;
  2. Two achievements on the ballast water front. First, adoption of the 2016 Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8), superseding the previous guidelines, and the agreement to make them mandatory after the entry into force of the BWM Convention.  Second, further discussions on the agreed Roadmap for implementation of the BWM Convention, resulting in development of guidance on contingency measures and establishment of a correspondence group to develop a structured plan for data gathering and analysis of experience gained with the implementation of the BWM Convention;
  3. Consideration of the energy efficiency of ships, largely self-explanatory, in particular as they relate to progress with the EEDI review;
  4. Concerning air pollution from ships, agreement by MEPC that the 0.50 per cent sulphur limit for fuel oil used on board ships, set out in regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI, shall become effective on January 2020. Draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI designating the North Sea and the Baltic Sea as emission control areas for NOx Tier III control with an effective date of 1 January 2021 were also approved;
  5. Under the item on ‘Further technical and operational measures to enhance energy efficiency of international shipping, guidance related to the mandatory data collection system for fuel oil consumption by ships was formulated and resulted in adoption of the 2016 Guidelines for the development of a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) replacing previous guidelines;
  6. Welcoming the forthcoming entry into force of the Paris Agreement, MEPC approved a Roadmap for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, which foresees an initial GHG strategy to be adopted in 2018;
  7. MEPC approved the designation of the marine area surrounding the Jomard Entrance, Papua New Guinea, as a PSSA; and,
  8. In considering the reports of sub-committees PPR3, III3 and SDC3, approved: Guidelines for onboard sampling for the verification of the sulphur content of fuel used on board ships, Unified interpretations to the NOx Technical Code 2008 related to the approval of SCR systems, draft Guidelines for port State control officers on the ISM Code and a methodology for developing PSC guidelines.


Addressing the actions requested of it by MEPC, Council ‘noted’ information on decisions or progress made on all relevant items and in addition, endorsed:


  1. The request for additional human resources in the Secretariat to develop and maintain the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database;
  2. The holding of two intersessional meetings of the Working Group on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships in 2017, before MEPC 71 and in Autumn 2017, respectively; and,
  3. In principle, holding further intersessional meetings on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships during the next biennium, noting that further meetings for multiple years during the implementation of the Roadmap for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships may be necessary.


Finally, Council approved the report of the 70th session of MEPC in general and will forward the report, with suitable comments and recommendations to the Assembly at its 30th session in December 2017.


  • PROTECTION OF VITAL SHIPPING LANES. A few salient points concerning the Gulf of Guinea made by the Secretary General revealed that the number of incidents reported to IMO has increased this year with 51 incidents for the first nine months (to 30 September) as against 27 for the same period in 2015 and 36 in 2014.  Kidnappings from ships amount to 32 with several particularly violent incidents.  However, in the western Indian Ocean, there has been a low level of successful piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia with no SOLAS vessels hijacked this year.  Notwithstanding, pirate action groups are still active and there are an estimated 10 seafarers from the fishing vessel SIRAJ still being held hostage in Somalia.  Following Plenary discussion, Council:
  1. Expressed concern at the number of attacks and boardings in the Gulf of Guinea;
  2. Expressed concern for the reports of missile attacks against ships operating in the southern Red Sea;
  3. Called upon flag States to monitor threats against ships entitled to fly their flag and to set appropriate security levels, in accordance with the ISPS Code;
  4. Thanked all countries that have contributed to the IMO West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund, the Djibouti Code Trust Fund and the International Maritime Security Trust Fund whilst inviting continued contributions;
  5. Welcomed improvements to the piracy situation off the coast of Somalia and in the Indian Ocean and expressed appreciation to Member States providing naval and other resources in the region; and
  6. Expressed concern for the innocent seafarers still in captivity.


Following a separate discussion under this item concerning the Cooperative Mechanism in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, Council:


  1. Expressed appreciation to the littoral States of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore for the timely implementation of the various components of the Mechanism;
  2. Expressed appreciation to all who have made contributions to various projects under the Mechanism; and
  3. Encouraged further contributions to both the Mechanism and the IMO Malacca and Singapore Straits Trust Fund.


  • IMO INTERNATIONAL MARITIME LAW INSTITUTE. Following the IMLI Director, Professor David Attord’s introduction on the Report of the IMLI Governing Board, Council noted the information relating to IMLI’s revised Budget for 2016 together with the proposed Budget for 2017 and also noted the ‘unqualified’ nature of the audit on the Institute’s financial performance up to the end of 2015.


  • INTERNATIONAL MARITIME PRIZE. This year’s prize was awarded to Doctor Frank Lawrence Wiswall, Jr (C.M.I.).


  • DAY OF THE SEAFARER. This year’s Day of the Seafarer was celebrated on 25 June with the theme ‘At Sea for All’ and was once again a great success.  The campaign’s Twitter outreach amounted to more than 28 million and Facebook engagement was over 850,000.


  • WORLD MARITIME DAY. The theme for 2016 was ‘Shipping: indispensable to the world’ and was celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 29 September.  The traditional annual evening reception was preceded by a World Maritime Day Forum which staged a stimulating debate for over 200 participants on shipping’s future challenges.  An equally successful parallel event was held in Istanbul from 3 – 6 November.  With regard to World Maritime Day 2017, the chosen theme is ‘Connecting Ships, Ports and People’ whilst the Government of Panama has agreed to stage the traditional parallel event.


Noting that 2018 will mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the IMO Convention, the 60th anniversary of its entry into force and the 100th session of the Maritime Safety Committee, the Secretary-General proposed departing from the traditional practice of submitting his proposal for the WMD theme at the mid-year Council session of the preceding year (ie a year in advance) in order to extend the amount of preparation time for celebrating such an historic milestone.  Thus he put forward a theme for 2018 of:  ‘IMO 70 : Our Heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future’ which was subsequently endorsed by Council.


  • IMO MARITIME AMBASSADOR SCHEME. The number of designated IMO Maritime Ambassadors (IMOMAs) as at 21 November 2016 is 44 representing 21 Member States and 6 NGOs / IGOs.  This includes our own George Hoyt of InterManager who appears under the purview of the ‘Nautical Institute’ in Council paper C/17/15(g).


  • STATUS OF CONVENTIONS. Developments on the status of conventions and other instruments for which IMO performs depository or other functions which occurred since the 116th session of the Council are:


  1. The Ballast Water Management Convention, 2004 which will enter into force on 8 September 2017;
  2. The 2009 Hong Kong Ship Recycling Convention which, following ratification by PANAMA in September this year, how has five Contracting States;
  3. The 2012 Cape Town Agreement, which now has seven Contracting States; and
  4. The 2010 HNS protocol which as yet has no Contracting States.


  • RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Following an introduction by the Secretary General of his report ‘Budget considerations for 2016’, Council noted:


  1. The review of external pay and price factors;
  2. The impact of exchange rate movements and authorised replenishment of the Working Capital Fund up to £2 million from a 2016 prospective under-spend;
  3. The forecast outturns of regular budget expenditure for 2016, assessed to be kept within the approved appropriation;
  4. The income and expenditure outturns and forecast in the Trading Fund and consequential in-year surplus distribution;
  5. The additional resource requirements in the HQ’s Capital Fund for 2016 and 2017, and approved the S-G’s proposal of a revised budget for the 2016-2017 biennium and its financing source of the supplementary funds;
  6. The expenditure status of the Termination Benefits Fund, the Training and Development Fund, the Technical Cooperation Fund and extra-budgetary programmes;
  7. The establishment of the Delivery Strategy and Reform-Voyage Together Trust Fund which aims to address policy issues on strategy and reform that cannot be financed from the regular budget but requested the S-G to show use of the Fund within the context of the budget at C118;
  8. Some main features considered in the preliminary assessment of budget prospects for 2017; and
  9. A summary of the Secretary-General’s conclusions and his plan to present an updated review of budget prospects for 2017 to CIII8, whilst also providing a strategy for filling vacant positions within the Secretariat, taking due cognisance of gender equality, geographic representation etc.


  • STRATEGY, PLANNING AND REFORM. The WG was tasked to prepare text to be included in the new strategic framework for the Organisation for the 2018 – 2023 period in relation to the:


  1. Strategic Directions (of which there were seven);
  2. Context Section; and
  3. Vision Statement.


The subsequent report produced by the Working Group was accepted by Council as a well-considered and comprehensive document which will serve as a sound strategic platform.


The Strategic Directions (SDs) referred to were:


SD1 :   Improve implementation;

SD2 :   Integrate new and advancing technologies in the regulatory framework;

SD3 :   Respond to climate change;

SD4 :   Engage in ocean governance;

SD5 :   Enhance global facilitation and security of international trade;

SD6 :   Ensure regulatory effectiveness;  and

SD7 :   Ensure organisational effectiveness.


  • DATE OF NEXT MEETING. The 118th regular session of the Council will be held at IMO Headquarters from 24 – 28 July 2017.






Captain Paddy McKnight                                                                                                                 END

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