AMSA's Role in Maritime Environmental Issues
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority Act 1990 specifies that AMSA’s role includes protection of the marine environment from pollution from ships and other environmental damage caused by shipping.
This document provides information on current issues associated with AMSA’s environmental activities, including those that might impact on the maritime industry and the role of AMSA within the next few years. AMSA continually reviews its involvement in a range of environmental issues to ensure it is meeting stakeholders’ needs and expectations.
Environment Protection Conventions And Legislation
Harmful Aquatic Organisms in Ballast Water
Australia signed the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, subject to ratification, on 29 May 2005. The Convention will enter in force 12 months after 30 States with combined merchant fleets constituting 35% of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping have signed the Convention. There are currently 36 contracting Governments, representing 29.07% of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage that have acceded to the Convention.
Australia has applied ballast water management requirements in Australian waters since2001 and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) is the lead agency. DAFF is currently preparing legislation and operational procedures to establish national ballast water management arrangements and ratify the Ballast Water Management Convention. The ballast water arrangements are being incorporated into new biosecurity legislation being developed by the Department as part of a biosecurity reform agenda. It is expected that the draft Biosecurity Bill will be introduced into Parliament in late 2012.It is likely that AMSA will play an operational role in implementing the Convention, primarily through port State control.
Wreck Removal Convention
The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks (WRC) was adopted by an IMO Diplomatic Conference on 18 May 2007. The new Convention establishes a sound legal basis for States to remove, or have removed, from their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) wrecks that may pose a hazard to navigation or, because of the nature of their cargo, a threat to marine and coastal environments. The WRC makes shipowners financially liable for the costs of removing hazardous wrecks and to this end requires them to take out insurance or provide other financial security to cover the costs of wreck removal. The limit of liability is as provided in the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, as amended.
Key provisions of the new Convention include:
- the reporting and locating of wrecks in the EEZ of States Parties;
- a provision enabling States to extend the application of the WRC to wrecks in their territory, including the territorial sea;
- the determination of hazard based on a list of specific criteria, including depth of water above the wreck and proximity of shipping routes;
- the rights and obligations to remove hazardous ships and wrecks, in particular when the shipowner is responsible for removing the wreck and when a State may intervene;
- the financial liability of shipowners for the costs of locating, marking and removing wrecks; and
- requirements for shipowners to be insured to cover their liabilities under the WRC.
Review of Annex V of MARPOL
A revised text of Annex V of MARPOL – Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships – was adopted at the 62nd session of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in July 2001. The amended regulations entered into force internationally on 1 January 2013. Amendments to the Commonwealth Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 to give effect to the regulations were passed through Parliament on 13 September 2012. The legislation will apply to all Australian waters, including State/NT waters until each jurisdiction implements complementary legislation.
- The main change is the inclusion of a new requirement specifying that discharge of all garbage into the sea is prohibited, except as expressly provided otherwise.
Other changes to MARPOL Annex V include the expansion of the requirements for placards and garbage management plans to fixed and floating platforms engaged in exploration and exploitation of the sea-bed and garbage management plans for every ship of 100 gross tonnage and above. Further information on the amendments to MARPOL Annex V, including the Guidelines for the implementation of MARPOL Annex V, can be found in Marine Notice 6/2012 and 19/2012.
The total prohibition on the disposal of all garbage, with only these minor exceptions, is expected to increase demand for garbage waste reception facilities in ports. AMSA has advised Ports Australia, waste removal contractors in ports, and the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to ensure the impact of the new regulations is taken into account in forward planning.
The HNS Convention is based on the successful two-tier compensation system for oil spills established under the existing Civil Liability and Fund Conventions. Like those instruments, when in force internationally it will establish a two-tier system for compensation to be paid in the event of accidents at sea, in this case involving hazardous and noxious substances. Tier one would be covered by compulsory insurance taken out by shipowners, who would be able to limit their liability; compensation claims over that amount (i.e. tier two) would be paid from a fund, made up of contributions calculated according to the amount of HNS received annually.
However, among the obstacles that have discouraged ratification of the 1996 HNS Convention, one of the most difficult to overcome has been the requirement for Parties to declare the quantities of packaged HNS received annually. The sheer range and diversity of hazardous and noxious substances that are covered under the 1996 HNS Convention has made this a complex issue that is hard to resolve in practical terms.
To address these issues, an International Conference on the revision of the 1996 HNS Convention was held at IMO headquarters in London in April 2010. The Conference successfully concluded an amending Protocol. The 1996 HNS Convention, as amended by the Protocol, is known as the 2010 HNS Convention. The 2010 HNS Convention will enter into force eighteen months after it has been accepted by 12 States, including four with not less than 2 million units of gross tonnage each, and with a combined total of at least 40 million tonnes of contributing cargo. As at 20 September 2012, eight States have signed the Protocol and are undertaking the process of ratification.Australia was an original proponent of the 1996 HNS Convention and played a key role in its development at IMO. However Australia itself was not able to accede to the 1996Convention, primarily due to the difficulties outlined above. Domestic consultations with a view to Australian accession to the 2010 HNS Convention have commenced and are being lead by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. The treaty and related documents (National Interest Analysis and Regulation Impact Statement) are currently being considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.
Limit of Liability under the Bunkers Convention
Following the Pacific Adventurer incident in 2009, Australia commenced work in the Legal Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to increase for maritime claims under the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC).
Australia argued that the current limits are too low to meet international and national expectations and that the polluter should pay for damages resulting from an oil spill. Australia was successful in having the issue added to the Legal Committee agenda for consideration.
In order for the matter to be formally discussed, Australia needed to secure agreement from 19 countries to co-sponsor Australia’s proposal to increase the limits on liability under the Convention. This was achieved in late 2010 and the proposal by Australia, with 20 co-sponsors, was submitted to the IMO in November 2010.The matter was considered by the 99th Session of the IMO Legal Committee in April 2012. The Committee agreed an increase of 51% of the current LLMC limits. The entry into force of the new limits will be 8 June 2015. Some legislative amendment will be required in due course to give effect to these changes.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships
The 62nd session of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in July 2011 adopted mandatory measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from international shipping, representing the first ever mandatory global greenhouse gas reduction regime for an international industry sector.
The amendments to MARPOL Annex VI Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships, add a new chapter 4 to Annex VI on Regulations on energy efficiency for ships. This chapter makes 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.
Amendments to the Commonwealth Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 which give effect to these new regulations were passed through Parliament on 13 September 2012.
Further information on these amendments can be found in Marine Notice 13/2012.
To further assist in the reduction of GHG emissions from ships, potential Market-Based Measures (MBMs) are continuing to be considered at sessions of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee.
INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACTIVITY
Biofouling of Ships
Australia co-sponsored a submission to IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in July 2007 raising the issue of translocation of invasive aquatic species through biofouling of ships. The submission was successful The Committee agreed to add a new high priority item to the work programme. The Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases was tasked to develop best practice measures, including practical guidelines, to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species through biofouling of ships. This work was completed at the 62nd session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee in July 2011 with the adoption of the “Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships Biofouling to Minimize the Transfer of Invasive Aquatic Species”. The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) will consult with Commonwealth government agencies, State/NT governments and industry on the best way to undertake implementation of the new Guidelines.Biofouling is the undesirable accumulation of micro-organisms, plants and animals on submerged structures, and is becoming increasingly recognized as a pathway for the introduction of invasive aquatic species. Evidence suggests that in some regions (including Port Phillip Bay) more than 50% of invasive aquatic species introductions have occurred through the biofouling pathway.
Ship Strikes with Cetaceans
‘Ship strikes’, i.e., collisions with cetaceans (in particular whales), are recognised as a threat to some vulnerable cetacean populations and increased traffic of faster and larger ships has led to rising concerns over the associated risks for cetaceans.
Following a submission by Australia, Belgium, Italy and several NGO’s in 2008, a high-priority item on “Development of a guidance document for minimizing the risk of ship strikes with cetaceans” was added to the work program of the IMO MEPC.
The guidance document was finalised at the Committee meeting in July 2009 and issued as IMO Circular MEPC.1/Circ.674. The document deals with actions that can be taken at the national level, such as gathering information, education and outreach, technological development, and operational measures including routeing and reporting measures or speed restrictions. The need for co-ordinating such actions with other States is also addressed.
Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA)
The Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA) was formed in November 1999 by a partnership of concerned government and maritime industry representatives all seeking to increase awareness for the protection of the marine environment. The AUSMEPA mandate is through education to encourage, develop and oversee the voluntary participation of Australians in protecting Australia's precious marine environment and the environment specifically, and the environment generally from all sources of pollution and degradation. AUSMEPA is based upon a Greek marine network initiative – HELMEPA.AMSA was represented at the 53rd Meeting of the AUSMEPA Board and Advisory Committee held in Melbourne on Friday 27 July and the 54th Meeting held in Sydney on Wednesday 28 November 2012.A range of topics relating to the provision of educational services to seafarers and shipping were discussed at both meetings.
Regional Waste Reception Facilities
At the July 2003 meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), the Committee noted that regional arrangements are an acceptable way to satisfy MARPOL obligations to provide reception facilities. This is an issue of particular importance for many small island countries in the South Pacific, where problems associated with the disposal of waste represents a significant barrier to adoption of the MARPOL Convention. Following further discussions over several Committee sessions, it was agreed that amendments to relevant MARPOL Annexes should be submitted in order to deal with the issue from a legal perspective. Australia and the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) accordingly submitted draft amendments for consideration at MEPC 60 (2010). While the proposed amendments were not agreed, the discussion at MEPC 60 provided some important direction for progressing this issue. Revised amendments were prepared by Australia and SPREP and submitted to MEPC, and formally adopted at MEPC 63 on 2 March 2012.
Noise from Commercial Shipping
The 58th session of IMO’s MEPC in October 2008 approved the inclusion of a new item in the agenda of MEPC 59 (July 2009) on “Noise from commercial shipping and its adverse impacts on marine life” with a target completion date of three or four sessions. The basis for the new item was a proposal by the United States on the development of non-mandatory technical guidelines to minimize the introduction of incidental noise from commercial shipping operations into the marine environment to reduce potential adverse impacts on marine life.
An intersessional Correspondence Group was established by the Committee to identify and address ways to minimize the introduction of incidental noise into the marine environment from commercial shipping to reduce the potential adverse impact on marine life. The Group reported its progress to MEPC 61 in October 2010, and was re-established to continue its work, reporting to MEPC 62 in July 2011.
At MEPC 62, the Committee instructed the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) to address the issue of noise from commercial shipping and its adverse impacts on marine life, noting that a new output had been added to the Sub-Committee’s biennial agenda to develop technical guidelines to address this issue.
At the 56th session of DE in February 2012 it was agreed that a Correspondence Group be established under the Coordination of the United States to develop non‑mandatory draft guidelines for reducing underwater noise from commercial ships for consideration at DE 57 in March 2013. Australia is participating in this Correspondence Group under the Coordination of AMSA and in consultation with representatives from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities, the Department of Defence and the Defence Science and Training Organisation, the Australian Shipowners Association and Curtin University.The outcomes from DE 56, including the establishment of this Correspondence Group were noted at the 64th session of in October 2012. The Committee also invited DE 57 to report on the outcomes of this work at MEPC 65 for consideration.