In addition to approving proposed amendments to the MARPOL Annex VI regulations to reduce harmful emissions from ships and progressing the Organization’s work on the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from ships1, the Committee, among other things, also reviewed the current draft of a proposed ship recycling convention, pursued its work on issues related to the Ballast Water Management Convention, designated the Papahãnaumokuãkea Marine National Monument as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area and agreed that the discharge requirements in respect of the “Mediterranean Sea area” would take effect on 1 May 2009. Recycling of ships
Substantial progress was made in developing the draft text of the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, a new convention which will provide globally applicable ship recycling regulations for international shipping and for recycling activities. The work paves the way for the Committee to approve the draft at its next meeting in October 2008, taking the process one step closer to the holding of a diplomatic conference to adopt the Convention in Hong Kong, China, in May 2009 (subject to endorsement by the IMO Council in June 2008).
An intersessional correspondence group was instructed to prepare a draft conference resolution addressing the circumstances in which sufficient recycling capacity may not be available. An intersessional meeting of the Working Group on Ship Recycling will be held in October 2008, the week before MEPC 58, to resolve outstanding issues and prepare a final version of the draft convention, to be reviewed at MEPC 58.
The new convention will provide regulations for the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships; for the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and for the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements.
In developing the draft text, the MEPC considered submissions from IMO Member Governments and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO, including documents presented by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Secretariat of the basel Convention.
The third session of the Joint ILO/IMO/basel Convention Working Group on Ship Scrapping is scheduled to be held in Geneva from 29 to 31 October, 2008.
Harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water
The MEPC agreed to grant “Basic Approval” to four ballast water management systems and “Final Approval” to one ballast water management system that make use of Active Substances, after consideration of the report of the fourth and fifth meetings of the GESAMP2 Ballast Water Working Group, which met in November 2007 and January 2008.
The MEPC also adopted a revised Procedure for approval of ballast water management systems that make use of active substances (G9), which updates and clarifies the procedure.
To date, 13 States, representing about 3.62% of the world’s merchant shipping, have ratified the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention), which was adopted in February 2004. It will enter into force twelve months after the date on which not less than thirty States, the combined merchant fleets of which constitute not less than thirty-five percent of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping, have become Parties to it. Bearing in mind the emphasis the international community places on the issue of invasive species in ships’ ballast water, the Committee urged other States to ratify the Convention at the earliest opportunity.
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas
The Committee agreed to designate the Papahãnaumokuãkea Marine National Monument, in the area of the North-western Hawaiian Islands (NWHIs), as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA). The PSSA will protect a unique, fragile and integrated coral reef ecosystem that consists of an approximately 1,200-mile stretch of small islands, atolls, banks, seamounts, pinnacles, shoals and other emergent features. The MEPC designated the PSSA “in principle” at its last session, pending adoption of associated protective measures by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), in October 2007. These measures have now been adopted.
They include amendments to the six existing Areas To Be Avoided (ATBAs), which were adopted by IMO in 1981 to protect the NWHIs, and the adoption of additional ATBAs around Kure Atoll and Midway Atoll as well as three other areas between islands. In addition, a ship-reporting system provides critical alerts and other information to assist safe navigation in this area and to provide information on vessel traffic in transit through the PSSA, to facilitate the ability to respond to maritime emergencies.
Mediterranean Special Area for garbage rules
The MEPC agreed to set a date of 1 May 2009 from which the discharge requirements in respect of the “Mediterranean Sea area” (a Special Area under MARPOL Annex V) shall take effect. The move followed discussion of a submission from the Mediterranean coastal States declaring that adequate reception facilities for garbage, as required by MARPOL Annex V, are available and cover the relevant ports within the region.
Review of Annex V of MARPOL
The MEPC reviewed the report of a correspondence group on the review of MARPOL Annex V and agreed to extend the target completion date of the work to 2009. The Committee encouraged Member Governments and observers to participate actively in the review of MARPOL Annex V and associated guidelines, so that the task can be completed in time for consideration by MEPC 59 in July 2009.
The correspondence group was re-established to develop draft amendments to the Annex and to the Guidelines for its implementation and to submit a progress report to MEPC 58 in October.
Protecting the Antarctic Area from shipping
The MEPC noted a submission raising concerns about the increased number and type of vessels operating in the Antarctic area, and recent incidents involving ships in distress in the area. The Committee noted the suggestion that, given that the Antarctic area was a Special Area under MARPOL Annexes I, II and V, IMO might consider addressing vessel ice‑strengthening standards; banning use of heavier grade fuel oils; addressing concerns over discharges of oily substances, sewage, grey water and waste; addressing the introduction of alien species through ballast water, hull-fouling and other pathways; and establishing a vessel traffic monitoring and information system for vessels operating in the Antarctic area.
Member Governments were invited to submit relevant proposals to future meetings of the Committee, and also to the Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG). The work programme of BLG 13 (scheduled to meet early in 2009) includes an agenda item on “Amendments to MARPOL Annex I on the use and carriage of heavy grade oil (HGO) on ships in the Antarctic area”, with a target completion date of 2010.
The MEPC considered the report of the seventh meeting of the OPRC‑HNS3 Technical Group, held in the week prior to the Committee’s session, and approved the final text of the draft evaluation guideline for the validation of newly‑developed and revised OPRC-related model courses. The committee also urged Member States and industry to provide financial support to fund the participation of delegates from developing countries in the Fourth R&D Forum on hazardous and noxious substances in the marine environment, to be held in conjunction with Interspill 2009, which will take place in Marseille, France, from 12 to 14 May 2009.
1 See IMO Briefing 12/2008 http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1709&doc_id=9123
2 Joint Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP)
3 International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC Convention) and the OPRC-HNS (Hazardous and Noxious Substances) Protocol
Briefing 13, 9 April 2008