The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 74th Session - Summary

The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) met for its 74th session at the IMO Headquarters in London from 13-17 May. Below is a summary of the outcome from this meeting on the following topics:

Sulphur 2020 implementation
MEPC 74 approved the following guidelines, guidance documents and Circulars which will enable the consistent implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit:

  • 2019 Guidelines for consistent implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI. 
    These guidelines will include sections on the impact new fuel and fuel types may have on the ship's machinery, verification issues, control mechanisms and actions and the draft final fuel oil non-availability report (FONAR).
  • 2019 Guidelines for port State control under the revised MARPOL Annex VI.
    These guidelines will provide updated guidance for port State control on inspections for compliance with MARPOL Annex VI, on the recognition of deficiencies and the application of control procedures.
  • Guidance for port State control on contingency measures for addressing non-compliant fuel oil will be published as MEPC.1/Circ.882
    This circular will provide guidance to the port State, flag State, ship-operators and other stakeholders concerned on possible actions to be taken when non-complaint fuel remains on board after a FONAR or when post bunkering testing identifies the fuel as being non-compliant.
  • MEPC Circular on the 2019 Guidelines for on board sampling for the verification of the sulphur content of the fuel oil used on board ships
    This circular will provide guidelines for on board sampling for verification of the sulphur content of fuel oil used on board ships, and establish an agreed method for sampling to enable effective control and enforcement under the provisions of MARPOL Annex VI.
  • MEPC circular on Guidance on indication of ongoing compliance in the case of the failure of a single monitoring instrument
    The Committee recommended actions to take if the exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS) fails to meet the provision of the Guidelines.
  • MSC-MEPC circular on Delivery of compliant fuel oil by suppliers, subject to approval by MSC 101 in June.
    This circular will recommend that Member States take appropriate action to ensure that fuel oil suppliers under their jurisdictions deliver compliant fuel oil. Fuel oil suppliers should be urged to take into account MEPC.1/Circ.875 Guidance on best practice for fuel oil purchasers/users for assuring the quality of fuel oil used on board ships, and MEPC.1/Circ.875/Add.1 Guidance on best practice for fuel oil suppliers for assuring the quality of fuel oil delivered to ships.
  • Guidance for best practice for Member State/coastal States.
    This guidance is intended to assist Member States in carrying out their responsibilities under MARPOL Annex VI, to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of statutory requirements of that Annex. The guidance provides that Member States/coastal States should consider actions deemed appropriate, under domestic legal arrangements, with respect to promoting the availability of compliant fuel oils, consistent with regulation 18.1 of MARPOL Annex VI; and Member States or other relevant authorities desiring to do so may decide to establish or promote a licensing scheme for bunker suppliers.
  • Carriage ban
    A related MARPOL Annex VI amendment to prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil used by ships, which was adopted last year, is expected to enter into force on 1 March 2020. Members are directed to IMO's Briefing: 20/05/2019 for additional information;

Reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships
MEPC 74 continued to develop methods of work to implement the initial GHG strategy which envisages a reduction in carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008; and that total annual GHG emissions from international shipping should be reduced by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008. It approved and adopted the following amendments to strengthen existing mandatory requirements for new ships to be more energy efficient.

  • Approved the Procedure for Assessing Impacts on States of Candidate Measures
  • Approved the Terms of Reference which will govern the Fourth IMO GHG Study
  • Streamlined the 37 proposals on Candidate Short-term Measures noted to date into 3 approaches for further development
  • Adopted Resolution MEPC.323(74), calling for voluntary cooperation with ports to facilitate the reduction of GHG emissions from ships.
  • Agreed to establish a multi-donor trust fund for GHG.
  • Agreed terms of reference for the sixth and seventh intersessional working groups to be held in November 2019 and in March 2020 respectively to expedite the work.

Ballast Water Management Convention 2004
MEPC 74 agreed an updated unified interpretation (UI) of appendix I (Form of the International Ballast Water Management Certificate) of the BWM Convention. The UI will become applicable on 13 October 2019, the date the Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS) Code becomes effective.

The Committee approved a revision of the circular for data gathering and analysis plan for the experience building phase associated with the BWM Convention.

The Committee approved amendments to regulations E-1.1 and E-1.5 of the BWM Convention, survey and certification requirements for ballast water management, which will include a commissioning test to validate the installation of any BWMS to demonstrate that its mechanical, physical, chemical and biological processes are working properly.

The Committee endorsed the view that commissioning testing should begin as soon as possible in accordance with BWM.2/Circ.70. As an interim measure, the Committee urged Administrations to provide the Recognized Organizations which act on their behalf, with written and clear instructions in relation to the conduct of indicative analysis testing at the time of their commissioning on ships that fly their flag; including what actions are to be taken in the event of testing demonstrating non-compliance.

Marine plastic litter from ships
MEPC 74 approved the Terms of Reference for the IMO Study on Marine Plastic Litter from Ships which call for the assessment of the availability of port reception facilities and recycling technologies available to ships, as well as an assessment of the volume and types of plastic litter being collected during fishing operations.

In support of the Action Plan to Address Marine Plastic Litter from Ships, the Committee developed a grouping of short-, mid- , long-term and continuous actions to address marine plastic litter from ships. Short-term actions will be referred to relevant sub-committees.

The work to be undertaken on short-term measures include:

  • Guidance to Member States on their responsibilities in enforcement of MARPOL Annex V on fishing vessels, and collection of information on accidental loss of fishing gear;
  • Consideration of making the Garbage Record Book mandatory for ships of 100G GT and above;
  • Improvement of seafarer training, through STCW Code, to create marine environmental awareness for personnel on fishing vessels.
  • Consider ways to communicate the location of lost shipping containers, and establish a compulsory system for declaration of lost containers.

The work is anticipated to begin in 2020 with the goal of completing and implementing actions by 2025.

Sources:  IMO Briefing 20/05/2019 and ABS MEPC Brief 17/05/2019

Staff Author