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Important issues considered at MEPC 69

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Internanal Maritime Ordanisation's (IMO) Marine Ennvironment Protection Committee's (MEPC) 69th session was held under the chairmanship of Mr. Arsenio Dominguez (Panama) and Vice-Chairman Hideaki Saito (Japan). The important issues considered at MEPC 69 were :

Ballast water management

The Ballast Water Management Convention is now close to reaching its entry into force criterion of 35 per cent of the world fleet’s gross tonnage. At present, only 0.21 per cent is needed for this to be the case. The coming entry into force of the Convention caused much pressure at MEPC 69, especially with negotiations on the finalisation of Guidelines G8 on the quality and testing of ballast water management systems. However, there are still some outstanding issues to be solved, for which reason a correspondence group was established, just as an extra working group meeting was planned to be held immediately prior to MEPC 70. Furthermore, Denmark had the opportunity to present a new concept called “Same Risk Area” at a well-attended meeting in connection with the MEPC. The “Same Risk Area” concept is a new way of making risk assessments in accordance with the Convention provisions on exemption (A-4) and Guidelines G7. The concept is intended to make it possible to make a risk assessment for an area rather than only for a single ship’s route. Due to pressure of time, the formal debate on the concept was postponed until MEPC 70.

Prohibition against the discharge of sewage in the Baltic Sea

Agreement was reached about a prohibition against the discharge of sewage from passenger ships in the entire Baltic Sea. Today, for example cruise ships are permitted to discharge their sewage in the Baltic Sea as long as the discharge is made at a minimum distance of 12 nautical miles from the coast. The prohibition becomes effective in 2019 for new-built ships and in 2021 for existing ships, with a possibility of postponement until 2023 for a few ships. The step-wise phasing gives shipowners time to ensure that the ships operating in the area can comply with the regulations and have sufficient capacity to store the sewage until they reach a port.

Energy efficiency design index (EEDI)

A correspondence group that has gone through the status on the technological development for EEDI ships reported to the MEPC that the regulations were sufficient. However, the Committee decided – quite in line with the Danish view – that the correspondence group should continue its work until the next session of the Committee and focus especially on ro-ro ships and ice factors, where existing regulations have to some extent proven inappropriate.

Greenhouse gases

Since April 2014, the MEPC has been striving to develop a Data Collection System for Fuel Consumption, the intention of which is to provide information about ships’ fuel consumption. The work has been continued by working groups and correspondence groups, and this has now led to the MEPC’s approval of a mandatory Data Collection System for Fuel Consumption, which will apply to ships with a tonnage above 5,000 GT. On an annual basis, the ships are to forward information about the total fuel consumption, the distance travelled and the time spent at sea. The system is the first step of a three-step plan. Subsequent steps will consist in, firstly, analysing the data reported and, secondly, taking a decision on additional measures to be taken to reduce shipping’s CO2 emissions. The system is to be adopted at the 70th session of the MEPC to be held in October this year. Furthermore, it was agreed to establish a correspondence group to draw up guidelines for the system.

Finally, there was general agreement that the IMO welcomes the COP21 Agreement and that the IMO is to continue its work and launch additional measures to reduce global CO2 emissions. The debate will be continued at MEPC 70.

Fuel quality and the availability of low-sulphur fuel

The MEPC considered the report from the correspondence group on fuel quality that was established at MEPC 67. The work developing guidelines/best practices enjoyed support, while it was decided not to introduce additional requirements for fuel quality in MARPOL Annex VI. Denmark is satisfied with this result since regulation should be avoided in areas that the market should itself be able to handle, for example in the form of industry standards. Furthermore, there was principled agreement that the decision on the entry into force date of the global limit value for sulphur of 0.5 per cent is to be taken at MEPC 70, when the report on the availability of fuel with a maximum of 0.5 per cent sulphur should be available according to plan. Denmark agrees that it is important to take a decision as early as possible in order for the industry to have time to adapt to the new requirements. Finally, the MEPC decided to initiate the revision of the guidelines on the approval of systems for removing sulphur from exhaust gases (scrubbers). 


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