Outcomes from 71st session of Marine Environment Protection Committee

Monday 31 July 2017
Reducing potentially harmful emissions from ships and preventing the spread of invasive species through ballast water management were hot topics at the 71st session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) which was held in London in early July. AMSA's General Manager of Response Toby Stone led Australia's delegation at the session.
A ship travelling the open seas

Implementing the 2020 sulphur cap

The Committee agreed to a scope of work to aid the implementation of the 0.5 per cent m/m global cap on the sulphur content in fuel oil used by ships - a reduction from the current cap of 3.5% m/m. The revised cap will come into effect from 1 January 2020. Alternative fuels such as methanol or liquefied natural gas, or marine diesel oil for smaller vessels, may be used to comply with this new regulation. Vessels may also use IMO-approved exhaust gas cleaning systems - known as a 'scrubber' - providing they achieve the same emissions reduction results.

The scope of work agreed by the Committee includes preparing for any transitional, technical, safety and verification challenges ahead of the 2020 deadline, as well as developing any required regulatory amendments and stakeholder guidance. This work will start at the 5th session of the Pollution Prevention and Response Sub-Committee in February 2018. AMSA is working closely with industry to ensure a smooth transition to the new sulphur cap. Watch this space for more updates in the lead up to the 2020 deadline.

Energy-efficient ships

The Committee also established a correspondence group to review future improvements to the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), which promotes the use of more energy-efficient ship designs, equipment and engines. Since 1 January 2013, all new ship designs have been required to meet a required EEDI based on their ship type (for example, a bulk carrier or a passenger ship). The index was designed to be tightened every five years in distinct phases, creating a progressively more energy-efficient global fleet.

While the index is still in phase 1 (2015-2019), the Committee is considering early implementation of the phase 3 requirements and possible introduction of a new phase 4. The correspondence group will provide a progress report to MEPC 72 in April 2018, an interim report to MEPC 73 in October 2018 and a final report to MEPC 74 in May-June 2019 based on its review of the index to date.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

MEPC 71 made good progress on the development of an initial draft strategy for the IMO on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships. This draft strategy will be further discussed at intersessional meetings in October 2017 and April 2018, with a view to adoption at MEPC 72 in 2018.

D-2 implementation date

The Committee agreed to amendments to the Ballast Water Management Convention implementation schedule which adjusts the dates by which ships must meet the ballast water performance standard. For most existing ships, this means they will have to install a ballast water management system no later than 8 September 2024. New ships constructed on or after 8 September 2017 will be required to meet the ballast water performance standard from the date they are put into service.

The Ballast Water Management Convention will come into force in September 2017 and aims to prevent the spread of invasive (non-native) aquatic organisms from one region to another by establishing standards and procedures for the management and control of ballast water and sediments.

More information on the above key outcomes can be found at:

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