Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 71st session 3-7 July 2017

Ballast Water Management Convention clarity

The MEPC agreed a practical and pragmatic implementation schedule for ships to comply with the IMO Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, which aims to stem the transfer of potentially invasive species in ships' ballast water.

The treaty enters into force on 8 September 2017. Currently, the BWM Convention has been ratified by 61 countries, representing 68.46% of world merchant shipping tonnage.

From the date of entry into force, ships will be required to manage their ballast water to avoid the transfer of potentially invasive species. All ships will be required to have a ballast water management plan and keep a ballast water record book. Ships will be required to manage their ballast water to meet the socalled D-1 standard or D-2 standard.

The D-1 standard requires ships to conduct the exchange of ballast water such that at least 95% of water by volume is exchanged far away from the coast where it would be released.

The D-2 standard* requires ballast water management to restrict to a specified maximum the amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged and to limit the discharge of specified indicator microbes harmful to human health.

Draft amendments to the treaty approved by the MEPC clarify when ships must comply with the requirement to meet the D-2 standard.

The draft amendments will be circulated after the entry into force of the BWM Convention on 8 September 2017, with a view to adoption at the next MEPC session (MEPC 72 in April 2018). Under the approved amendments, new ships, i.e., ships constructed on or after 8 September 2017, shall conduct ballast water management that at least meets the D-2 standard from the date they are put into service. For existing ships, i.e., ships constructed before 8 September 2017, the date for compliance with the D-2 standard is linked with the renewal survey of the ship associated with the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate under MARPOL Annex I. For existing ships this would be the first or second five-year renewal survey after 8 September 2017:

By the first renewal survey: this applies when that the first renewal survey of the ship takes place on or after 8 September 2019 or a renewal survey has been completed on or after 8 September 2014 but prior to 8 September 2017.

By the second renewal survey: this applies if the first renewal survey after 8 September 2017 takes place before 8 September 2019. In this case, compliance must be by the second renewal survey (provided that the previous renewal survey has not been completed in the period between 8 September 2014 and 8 September 2017).

An existing ship to which the IOPP renewal survey under MARPOL Annex I does not apply shall meet the D-2 standard from the date decided by the Administration, but not later than 8 September 2024.

The MEPC adopted a resolution which resolves that Parties to the BWM Convention should implement the schedule for compliance outlined in the draft amendments, ahead of their adoption and entry into force.

In other work focusing on implementation of the BWM treaty, the MEPC, inter alia:

adopted the 2017 Guidelines for ballast water exchange (G6);

adopted the 2017 Guidelines for risk assessment under regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention (G7);

adopted an MEPC resolution on "The experience-building phase associated with the BWM Convention";

approved the Code for approval of ballast water management systems, and approved draft amendments to the BWM Convention to make the Code mandatory, for adoption at the next session;

approved amendments to section E (Survey and certification) of the BWM Convention, also for adoption at MEPC 72;

approved a manual on "Ballast Water Management - How to do it";

approved Guidance on contingency measures under the BWM Convention;

approved a circular on Application of the BWM Convention to ships operating in sea areas where ballast water exchange in accordance with regulations B-4.1 and D-1 is not possible;

granted final approval to one and basic approval to two ballast water management systems that makes use of active substances.

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships

The MEPC continued to build on the solid work the Organization has undertaken to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping, with work on track for the adoption of an initial IMO strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships in 2018, in accordance with a Roadmap approved at MEPC 70.

The MEPC noted agreement within a working group on a draft outline for the structure of the initial IMO Strategy. The group met following a week-long meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (26-30 June), which reported on its detailed discussions.

The initial strategy is set to include:

Preamble/introduction/context including emission scenarios


Levels of ambition

Guiding principles

List of candidate short-, mid- and long-term further measures with possible timelines and their impacts on States

Barriers and supportive measures; capacity building and technical cooperation; R&D

Follow-up actions towards the development of the revised Strategy

Periodic review of the Strategy

The Committee approved terms of reference for the second and third meetings of the Intersessional Working Group.

In addition to further considering how to progress the matter of reduction of GHG emissions from ships and advise the Committee as appropriate, the second intersessional meeting (ISWG-GHG 2, 23-27 October 2017) has been instructed to further develop the structure and identify core elements of the draft initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships and develop draft text for inclusion in the initial Strategy, with submissions due by 22 September 2017.

The third intersessional meeting (ISWG-GHG 3, 3-6 April 2018) has been instructed, on the basis of the work of ISWG GHG 2, to finalize the draft initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships and submit a report to MEPC 72 (9-13 April 2018).

Energy efficiency measures for ships

Energy-efficiency design standards for new ships and associated operational energy-efficiency measures for existing ships became mandatory in 2013, with the entry into force of relevant amendments to MARPOL Annex VI. The Committee was informed that nearly 2,500 new ocean-going ships have been certified as complying with the energy efficiency standards. In other work related to the implementation of the mandatory energy efficiency measures in MARPOL Annex VI, the MEPC:

adopted 2017 Guidelines for Administration verification of ship fuel oil consumption data, to support the implementation of the mandatory MARPOL requirements for ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above to collect consumption data for each type of fuel oil they use, as well as additional specified data, including proxies for transport work, from calendar year 2019;

adopted 2017 Guidelines for the development and management of the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database;

approved an MEPC circular on Submission of data to the IMO data collection system for fuel oil consumption of ships from a State not Party to MARPOL Annex VI;

approved draft amendments to regulation 21 of MARPOL Annex VI regarding EEDI requirements for ro-ro cargo and ro-ro passenger ships, with a view to adoption at MEPC 72;

established a correspondence group on review of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) beyond phase 2, to report on progress by MEPC 72 and make a recommendation to MEPC 73 on the time period and reduction rates for EEDI phase 3 requirements.