IMO’s MEPC covers extensive environmental agenda

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) covered a vast amount of ground at its 51st meeting in London. The agenda for the meeting was extensive and INTERTANKO was present throughout to monitor issues relating to the amendments to MARPOL Annex II on the carriage of chemicals, ship recycling, ballast water management, air pollution and port reception facilities. An overview of the more substantial items is given in separate articles.

Air emissions and the issue of green house gas emissions in particular caused extensive debate during the week. The cross-over with the Kyoto Protocol led to certain states objecting to the IMO acting on air emissions from shipping, as it was believed that some states that were outside the Kyoto requirements should not be subjected to any requirements under the IMO. As result of these objections, work carried out since the last MEPC meeting and work undertaken during this week was not approved by the Committee.

This is disappointing from an industry perspective, since international legislation is required on this matter. As a result of this week’s problems, the IMO may now be considered as lagging on the matter, which could provoke the development of national and regional initiatives on air emissions. That said, due note was made of Cyprus, Poland and Japan’s intentions to ratify Annex VI (Air Emissions) to MARPOL by the end of 2004. This would see the entry-into-force requirements being met and the Annex entering into force by the end of 2005.

Port reception facilities continue to generate interest in the Committee. However, the discussion at the IMO’s Flag State Implementation Committee (FSI) on assisting the industry in overcoming inadequate facilities, was questioned in light of a lack of evidence that the problem still exists.

It is therefore as important now as it ever has been to ensure that reports on all inadequate port reception facilities are sent to the flag states. INTERTANKO recommends that a renewed effort is made on this issue and asks for copies of any reports be sent to INTERTANKO so that it can monitor whether these reports are eventually filed with the IMO. MEPC will discuss this issue once again in October this year, and INTERTANKO will ensure that the issue maintains a high level of importance and begs its members to assist in providing data for submission to this session.

INTERTANKO raised the issue of phased-out Annex I tankers being able to continue trading Annex II cargoes even when their IOPP Certificate had been withdrawn, and the potential port state control problems that may occur. The Committee clarified this issue stating that phased-out Annex I tankers could still carry certain Annex II cargoes without a IOPP Certificate. Additionally, the Committee  recommended that flag states should instruct and confirm arrangements for the withdrawal of the IOPP Certificate on a practical level.

Amendments to both Annex IV (Sewage) and V (Garbage) of MARPOL were also adopted with some slight drafting amendments included.

Although no papers were submitted to the session on the anti-fouling Convention, it was noted that it was unlikely that the Convention will come into force in the near future. Before urging member states to ratify this Convention, it was noted that only eight countries, representing 9.36% of the world’s tonnage had so far ratified it. The requirement is for 25 states totalling 25% of the world’s tonnage. Guidelines on Survey and Certification, Brief Sampling and Inspection of Anti-fouling Systems were all approved and adopted at the IMO’s Assembly meeting in December 2003.

Having received enquiries regarding regulation 19.6.2 of Annex I, the Committee agreed that a Unified Interpretation regarding the designation of double side wing tanks was required and gave the following text:

‘Wing tanks required for the protection of the entire cargo tank length by regulation 19.6.2, for the purpose of compliance with regulation 35.4.2, can be used as cargo tanks for the carriage of oil other than heavy grade oils when the ship is provided with cargo tanks so arranged that the capacity of each cargo tank does not exceed 700m3’.

(Note that the above relates to tankers between 600 and 5000 dwt only).

The next MEPC meeting, MEPC 52, will take place in London 11-15 October 2004, with MEPC 53 tentatively scheduled for 18-22 July 2005.

Contact: Tim Wilkins   Howard Snaith