Last week’s meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment and Protection Committee (MEPC 48) saw substantial progress made on three key environmental issues, namely ballast water management, ship recycling and anti-fouling systems. Unsatisfactory reporting by states of inadequate port reception facilities was also discussed.

Harmful aquatic Organisms in Ballast Water


Continuing on from a week’s session of the Ballast Water Working Group prior to the MEPC meeting, two fundamental issues were taken into account. Firstly, it was agreed that more time was required in order to complete the draft Convention and so the initial target date for adoption has been delayed from the end of 2003 to the beginning of 2004. This will allow for a more thorough review of the implications of the Convention in practical terms and hopefully avoid any problems associated with the implementation and enforcement of the requirements.


The second issue addressed was that of the standards to be met by ballast water treatment equipment. The Committee agreed upon two interim standards and a more stringent long term standard:


Short term Ballast Water Management Standard


Option 1: Achieve at least 95% removal, rendering harmless, or inactivation of a defined set of taxa.


Option 2: Discharge no detectable quantities of viable organisms above (X)microns in size, and discharge no more than (x) per litre of other viable organisms smaller than (x)microns in size.


Long Term Ballast Water Management Standard


Discharge no detectable quantities of viable organisms above (y)microns in size, and discharge no other organisms above a concentration of (z).


These standards are by no-means fixed and comments on these figures are requested for the next MEPC meeting due to be held in June 2003. Key to the discharge standards is the testing and verification of the ballast water. It was agreed that the type testing and sampling arrangements would be based on those stipulated in Annex VI (Air Emissions) of MARPOL.


Further discussion took place on the type of ships which should comply with these standards. The issue of applicability to new and existing ships has been expanded to include a category for ‘intermediate ships’. Provisional dates have been drafted into the Convention with intermediate ships looking to meet specific ballast treatment requirements by 2005 and new ships by 2015. The latter is given a greater extension to allow for the technology to advance in order for these vessels to meet the required ‘long term standard’.


As agreed at the last MEPC meeting , the IMO issued their circular on ‘Design suggestion for ballast water and sediment management options in new ships’. This is now available to members on the INTERTANKO website


Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships’ Hulls.


MEPC adopted the Guidelines on Survey and Certification of Antifouling Systems on Ships, a draft copy of which can be found here. Guidelines for inspection and for a brief sampling have been referred to the Flag State Implementation sub-Committee, FSI, for further development. INTERTANKO will participate in the development of these Guidelines at the FSI sub-Committee meeting.


On the issue of the Anti-fouling Convention, States were reminded that they have to report to the IMO on an annual basis information regarding approved anti-fouling systems which are restricted or prohibited under their domestic law. Only the UK has so far responded to this and gave a website detailing the acceptable products under its domestic law. Please see the UK Health and Safety Executive website.


Ship Recycling


Further work was carried out on IMO’s Guidelines on Ship Recycling. MEPC convened a working group to further develop the text of the Guidelines, in which INTERTANKO participated. Although a great deal of work had gone into the Guidelines before and during the meeting, the Committee agreed that there were still some substantial aspects of the text that needed developing. The Committee has therefore re-convened the Correspondence Group on the issue, to which INTERTANKO contributes.


Alongside the work of the working group, INTERTANKO talked with other industry bodies and it has been suggested that, in light of the work needed in developing the Guidelines and also the concern over the degree of implementation of the Industry Code of Practice, an Industry Working Party on Ship Recycling should be convened as soon as possible.


Greenpeace were also active in the working group during MEPC and feel that the Guidelines are the first step in gaining mandatory provisions on ship recycling for the shipping industry. Additionally, they are also concerned with the implementation of the Industry Code and the use of the hazardous materials inventory once it has been handed to the dismantling yard.


A full set of the draft Guidelines that are up for discussion are available on the INTERTANKO website: Click here for more information.   

Other issues


MEPC recognised that there is still a major problem confronting the shipping industry regarding the inadequacy of port reception facilities. The Committee suggested that the lack of reports from states on the matter may be due to the problems associated with reporting requirements and reporting forms. The Committee have therefore agreed to look into the reporting requirements, including an assessment on the availability of reception facilities. INTERTANKO will participate in the discussion on this important issue when it is raised at the next FSI sub-Committee meeting.


Although there was some work carried out on the ‘Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance’ it was felt that there were still some substantive issues which needed addressing and that the Safety of Navigation (NAV) sub-Committee was best placed to comment on and assess the merit of the amendments put forward by MEPC. The adoption of these Guidelines and the associated resolution has therefore been delayed until the NAV sub-Committee has taken into account these new suggestions.


Contact: Tim Wilkins, e-mail: tim.wilkins@intertanko.com