IMO adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) to designate the United States Caribbean Sea as a new emission control area (ECA); to designate the Baltic Sea as a Special Area with respect to pollution by sewage from ships; and to adopt a revised Annex V related to the control of garbage, at the 62nd session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), which met from 11 to 15 July 2011 at the IMO Headquarters in London.
Mandatory measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from international shipping were adopted by Parties to MARPOL Annex VI represented in the MEPC (see press briefing 42/2011).
Following approval at its last session, the MEPC adopted MARPOL amendments to designate certain waters adjacent to the coasts of Puerto Rico (United States) and the Virgin Islands (United States) as an ECA for the control of emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulphur oxides (SOX), and particulate matter under MARPOL Annex VI Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships. Another amendment will make old steamships exempt from the requirements on sulphur relating to both the North American and United States Caribbean Sea ECAs. The MARPOL amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013, with the new ECA taking effect 12 months later.
The MEPC adopted Guidelines for reception facilities under MARPOL Annex VI and Guidelines addressing additional aspects to the NOx Technical Code 2008 with regard to particular requirements related to marine diesel engines fitted with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems.
The MEPC agreed a work plan on addressing the impact in the Arctic of black carbon emissions from ships and instructed the Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) to: develop a definition for black carbon emissions from international shipping; consider measurement methods for black carbon and identify the most appropriate method for measuring black carbon emissions from international shipping; investigate appropriate control measures to reduce the impacts of black carbon emissions from international shipping in the Arctic; and submit a final report to MEPC 65 (in 2014).
The MEPC adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex IV Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships to include the possibility of establishing “Special Areas” for the prevention of such pollution from passenger ships and to designate the Baltic Sea as a Special Area under this Annex. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013.
The MEPC adopted the revised MARPOL Annex V Regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships, which has been developed following a comprehensive review to bring the Annex up to date. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013.
The MEPC agreed to designate the Strait of Bonifacio as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA), following its approval in principle at the last session, and consideration of associated protective measures by the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV) in June 2011.
The MEPC adopted the first set of international recommendations to address biofouling of ships, to minimize the transfer of aquatic species. The Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species will address the risks of introduction of invasive aquatic species through the adherence of sealife, such as algae and molluscs, to ships’ hulls.
The MEPC adopted the 2011 Guidelines for the development of the Ship Recycling Plan as well as updated Guidelines for the development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials, which are intended to assist in the implementation of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, adopted in May 2009.
The MEPC approved Guidelines for the carriage of blends of petroleum oil and bio-fuels, which set out carriage and discharge requirements for bio-fuel blends containing 75% or more of petroleum oil (they are subject to Annex I of MARPOL); bio-fuel blends containing more than 1% but less than 75% of petroleum oil (subject to Annex II of MARPOL); and bio-fuel blends containing 1% or less petroleum oil (also subject to Annex II of MARPOL).
The MEPC endorsed environmental risk evaluation criteria, for inclusion in the Guidelines for Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) for use in the IMO rule-making process, subject to approval by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC).