MARPOL Annex VI - IMO Guidelines for Port State Control

As reported in Weekly NEWS No. 29 of 22 July 2005, IMO's Marine Environmental Protection Committee adopted at its 53rd session (MEPC 53) Guidelines for Port State Control (PSC) for MARPOL Annex VI. MEPC 53 recognised that Annex VI places requirements on ship owners in respect of bunker delivery notes and representative samples of the fuel delivered. If the country of fuel oil supply is not a Party to MARPOL Annex VI, then the required Bunker Delivery Note or the representative sample may not be available.  

In other countries not yet Party to MARPOL Annex VI, a number of bunker providers are issuing a Bunker Certificate of Compliance to receiving ships, in order to provide them with documentation of the fuel oil on board, in case the ship should be subject to port state control in a port of call under the jurisdiction of a MARPOL Annex VI Party. However, MEPC 53 expressed the view that a Bunker Certificate of Compliance could not replace the appropriate documentation issued by a bunker provider operating under the jurisdiction of a Party to MARPOL Annex VI. MEPC 53 agreed that it was for the PSC Authority of a MARPOL Annex VI Party to decide whether or not to accept the Certificate of Compliance and to take appropriate action. Therefore, according to a curious logic, MEPC 53 agreed that according to regulations 14 and 18 of MARPOL Annex VI, it is the ship which is responsible for documenting compliance. INTERTANKO disagrees with this point of view and will revert on it.  

However, as a first line of defence, INTERTANKO managed to succeed in getting some amendments to these Guidelines adopted. The added text will enable ships that either do not receive the documentation required by MARPOL Annex VI, or that are supplied with non-compliant bunkers, to issue a Notification to its Administration with a copy to the port authority where it bunkered and with a copy onboard for PSC’s scrutiny. In case of a claim of non-compliant bunkers, the ship should attach to the Notification, a copy of the commercial documents, i.e. test results delivered by a test laboratory performed under the ship's contract. Click here for a copy of the Guidelines. The text in italics is the text adopted as a result of the INTERTANKO intervention. 

Many delegations from Parties to MARPOL Annex VI expressed sympathy with the other proposed amendment by INTERTANKO, namely that ships should not be detained in cases were they had not done anything wrong. However, the U.S. and U.K. intervened saying that such an instruction would necessitate amendments to MARPOL Annex VI and this could not be done now. Consequently, the MEPC Chairman did not allow action on the merits of this proposal by INTERTANKO. It was indicated that a ship which has non-compliant fuel onboard should be asked to obtain compliant bunker fuels before leaving port. In our view, this indicates a tacit recognition that a ship should not be detained in such a situation, particularly when it can document that the non-compliance is not the ship's responsibility. INTERTANKO will follow up and insist on further clarification and a better defence for ships. So far, it considers this report as only a reference and information for ships.  

It was also agreed that, when a ship within a Sulphur Emissions Control Area (SECA) has two types of fuel on board, one with a sulphur content of less that 1.5% and one with more that 1.5% sulphur content, PSC officers should consider only the fuel oil "being used". 

Finally, at INTERTANKO’s request, it was also clarified that the Voluntary Statement of Compliance for onboard engines issued by a Classification Society for ships flying flags of non-Parties to MARPOL Annex VI should be taken into account (see paragraph 3.3 of the draft Guidelines stipulating that …"the PSCO may take such documentation into account in the evaluation of the ship"). 

Contact: Dragos Rauta