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New SOLAS, MARPOL Amendments Enter Into Force – What You Need to Know

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January 2, 2013

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As of January 1, 2013, the International Maritime Organization has entered into force new regulations aimed at improving the energy efficiency of international shipping and preventing accidents during lifeboat launching. Here is what’s new for 2013:

SOLAS Amendments

Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) aimed at preventing accidents during lifeboat launching entered into force on 1 January 2013.

The amendments, adopted in May 2011, add a new paragraph 5 to SOLAS regulation III/1, to require lifeboat on-load release mechanisms not complying with new International Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code requirements to be replaced, no later than the first scheduled dry-docking of the ship after 1 July 2014 but, in any case, not later than 1 July 2019.

The SOLAS amendment is intended to establish new, stricter, safety standards for lifeboat release and retrieval systems, and will require the assessment and possible replacement of a large number of lifeboat release hooks.
Information submitted by flag States on their assessments of existing lifeboat hooks is available on the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) under Evaluation of Hooks.

MARPOL Amendments

The amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) were adopted in July 2011.New regulations aimed at improving the energy efficiency of international shipping entered into force on 1 January 2013. A new chapter 4 Regulations on energy efficiency for ships to MARPOL Annex VI, to make mandatory the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships. Other amendments to Annex VI add new definitions and the requirements for survey and certification, including the format for the International Energy Efficiency Certificate.

The regulations apply to all ships of 400 gross tonnage and above. However, under regulation 19, the Administration may waive the requirements for new ships up to a maximum of 4 years.

The EEDI is a non-prescriptive, performance-based mechanism that leaves the choice of technologies to use in a specific ship design to the industry. As long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained, ship designers and builders would be free to use the most cost-efficient solutions for the ship to comply with the regulations.

The SEEMP establishes a mechanism for operators to improve the energy efficiency of ships. Ships are required to keep on board a ship specific Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP).

Additional MARPOL amendments which entered into force on 1 January include the following.

Annex VI Emissions

Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI designate certain waters adjacent to the coasts of Puerto Rico (United States) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (United States) as the US Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area for the control of emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulphur oxides (SOX) and particulate matter under regulations 13 and 14 of MARPOL Annex VI. Another amendment makes old steamships exempt from the requirements on sulphur content of fuel oil used on board ships in both the North American and United States Caribbean Sea ECAs. The new US Caribbean Sea ECA takes effect 12 months after entry into force, that is, 1 January 2014.

Annex IV Sewage

Amendments to MARPOL Annex IV Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships include the possibility of establishing Special Areas, the actual designation of the Baltic Sea as a Special Area under Annex IV, and the introduction of stricter discharge requirements for passenger ships while in a Special Area.

Annex V Garbage

The revised MARPOL Annex V Regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships has entered into force, following a comprehensive review to bring the Annex up to date.

The main feature of the revision is the prohibition of the discharge of all garbage into the sea except as expressly provided otherwise in the Annex. The discharges permitted in certain circumstances include food wastes, animal carcasses, cargo residues, and water containing cleaning agents or additives used for washing deck and external surfaces or cargo holds.

Cargo residues and cleaning agents and additives must only be considered for discharge if they are not harmful to the marine environment. The changes also include the updating of definitions; the introduction of an “en route” requirement for the discharge of garbage at sea; and the regrouping of the garbage categories for the purpose of the garbage record book.

Additional information on the Amendments can be found on the IMO website.


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