Protecting the seas from garbage – mandatory garbage record books for smaller ships
The Sub-Committee agreed draft amendments to MARPOL Annex V to extend the mandatory requirement Garbage Record Books from ships of 400 gross tonnage and above to ships of 100 gross tonnage and above.
MARPOL Annex V gives the regulations for preventing pollution from garbage from ships, generally prohibits the discharge of all garbage into the sea, except as provided otherwise in regulations 4, 5, and 6 of the Annex, which are related to food waste, cargo residues, cleaning agents and additives and animal carcasses (see overview here.)
The current regulation 10.3 requires all ships of 400 gross tonnage and above and every ship which is certified to carry 15 persons or more engaged in voyages to ports and offshore terminals under the jurisdiction of another Party to the Convention and every fixed or floating platform to be provided with a Garbage Record Book and to record all disposal and incineration operations. The amended regulation will extend that requirement to include ships of 100 gross tonnage and above.
The amended regulation will also state that, in the event of any discharge or accidental loss referred to in regulation 7 of MARPOL Annex V, an entry shall be made in the Garbage Record Book, or in the case of any ship of less than 100 gross tonnage (rather than any ship of less than 400 gross tonnage and above, as in the current regulation), an entry shall be made in the ship’s official log-book of the date and time of occurrence, port or position of the ship at time of occurrence (latitude, longitude and water depth if known), the reason for the discharge or loss, details of the items discharged or lost, categories of garbage discharged or lost, estimated amount for each category in cubic metres, reasonable precautions taken to prevent or minimize such discharge or accidental loss and general remarks.
The Garbage Record Book must be kept for a period of two years after the date of the last entry. This regulation makes it easier to check that the regulations on garbage are being adhered to as it means ship personnel must keep track of the garbage and what happens to it.
Environmental risk associated with the maritime transport of plastic pellets
The Sub-Committee discussed a number of submissions related to the transport of plastic pellets by sea. This included a document submitted by Sri Lanka, reporting on the May 2021 MV X-Press Pearl incident, during which 11,000 tonnes of plastic pellets were spilled off the shore of Colombo, which was referred to the Sub-Committee by the MEPC.
Following discussion in a working group, the Sub-committee instructed the Correspondence Group on Marine Plastic Litter from Ships to further consider the options for reducing the environmental risk associated with the maritime transport of plastic pellets and advise the Sub-Committee on the way forward.
Fishing gear – marking and reporting
Under the agenda item on marine plastic litter from ships, the Sub-Committee discussed the marking of fishing gear and mandatory reporting of lost fishing gear. Draft amendments to MARPOL Annex V to enhance and promote the mandatory reporting have been proposed.
To continue the work, the Correspondence Group on Marine Plastic Litter from Ships was instructed to further consider draft amendments to MARPOL Annex V to provide for the reporting mechanisms, the modalities and the information to be reported to Administrations and IMO to facilitate and enhance reporting of the loss or discharge of fishing gear; and to develop appropriate draft amendments to the 2017 Guidelines for the implementation of MARPOL Annex V (resolution MEPC.295(71)) to support the implementation of the contemplated draft amendments to MARPOL Annex V.
With regard to marking of fishing gear, the Sub-Committee agreed to recommend to the MEPC that, as a short-term measure to promote the marking of fishing gear, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Voluntary Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear should be promoted by IMO, for example through an MEPC circular. This should take into account additional work by FAO, such as the technical manual on marking of fishing gear which is being developed. Furthermore, the Sub-Committee requested the MEPC to provide further advice on possible regulatory options concerning fishing gear marking, taking into account: proposals to make marking mandatory through a goal-based approach; proposals on maintaining marking as a voluntary and selective measure in cooperation with gear marking measures by FAO and regional fisheries management organizations; legal advice provided by the IMO Secretariat; and relevant information provided by FAO.
In this regard, FAO advised the Sub-Committee that a mandatory obligation for the marking of fishing gear at this stage would be a challenge, noting the voluntary nature of the existing guidelines and that that recent research conducted by FAO shows that the development of affordable and effective gear markings is at an early stage. For optimal results, the Voluntary Guidelines should ideally be linked to a global vessel registration system.
Protecting seas in the Arctic – regional arrangements for port reception facilities agreed
States which are a Party to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships (MARPOL) are required to provide adequate port reception facilities to receive operational waste from ships. The regulations currently allow for regional arrangements, specifically for Small Island Developing States, where it may be more difficult for individual States to provide adequate reception facilities.
To support the development of such regional arrangements in the Arctic, and ensure waste is not discharged at sea, the Sub-Committee agreed draft amendments to the MARPOL annexes to allow States with ports in the Arctic region to enter into regional arrangements for port reception facilities. This would apply to “States the coastline of which borders on Arctic waters, provided that regional arrangements shall cover only ports within Arctic waters of those States”.
The draft amendments to MARPOL Annexes I (oil), II (noxious liquid substances), IV (sewage), V (garbage) and VI (air pollution) will be forwarded to MEPC 78 for consideration for approval and subsequent adoption.
The Sub-Committee also agreed related draft amendments to the 2012 Guidelines for the development of a regional reception facility plan (resolution MEPC.221(63)).
Discharge water from exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) – guidelines and guidance agreed
In the context of prevention of air pollution from ships, the Sub-Committee continued its discussions on the evaluation and harmonization of rules and guidance on the discharge of discharge water from exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) into the aquatic environment.
The Sub-committee agreed, for approval by MEPC 78:
draft MEPC Circular on 2022 Guidelines for risk and impact assessments of the discharge water from exhaust gas cleaning systems, to provide information on recommended methodology for risk and impact assessments that Member States should follow when considering local or regional regulations to protect the sensitive waters/environment from the discharge water from EGCS.
draft MEPC Circular on 2022 Guidance regarding the delivery of EGCS residues and stored discharge water to port reception facilities, providing best practices intended to assist both ship operators and port States in assuring the proper management and disposal of EGCS residues and stored discharge water from EGCSs into port reception facilities.
The Sub-Committee invited the Secretariat to explore possible development of a database of local/regional regulations on EGCS discharges within the MARPOL Annex VI module in GISIS.
In 2021, the MEPC adopted the updated Guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems, which specify the criteria for the testing, survey, certification and verification of EGCS and cover continuous monitoring requirements and discharge water quality criteria, including minimum pH, maximum PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) concentration; provisions to minimize suspended particulate matter, including heavy metals and ash, and to prevent discharge of nitrates beyond specified levels. The Guidelines note that discharge water quality criteria should be reviewed in the future as more data becomes available. Guidance for voluntary discharge water data collection, by means of a recommended procedure for sampling, is included.
Emissions of Black Carbon from international shipping
A working group discussed various submissions relating to the reduction of the impact on the Arctic of emissions of Black Carbon from international shipping. The MEPC at its 77th session in 2021 adopted a resolution which urges Member States and ship operators to voluntarily use distillate or other cleaner alternative fuels or methods of propulsion that are safe for ships and could contribute to the reduction of Black Carbon emissions from ships when operating in or near the Arctic.
The resolution encourages Member States to commence addressing the threat to the Arctic from Black Carbon emissions, and report on measures and best practices to reduce Black Carbon emissions from shipping.
Following discussion, the Sub-Committee instructed the Correspondence Group on Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, to:
develop draft guidelines on recommendatory goal-based control measures to reduce the impact on the Arctic of Black Carbon emissions from international shipping, recognizing possible different approaches for new and in-service ships;
review existing data on the recommended Black Carbon measurement methods (FSN, PAS, LII) to be used in conjunction with such draft recommendatory goal-based control measures with a view to: identifying the most suitable measurement method(s) to be followed; and identifying the related sampling, measurement, reporting and calibration procedures;
identify how to develop and apply potential threshold (limit) value(s) for Black Carbon;
gather relevant information on the development of a standard approach to the characterisation of marine fuels in terms of their aromatic and paraffinic nature; and
further consider regulating or otherwise directly control Black Carbon emissions from marine diesel engines (exhaust gas) to reduce the impact on the Arctic of Black Carbon emissions from international shipping, taking into account the identified candidate control measures, other relevant documents and views expressed.
Revision of the Anti-fouling Systems Convention guidelines
The Sub-Committee finalized the draft text of revised guidelines to support implementation of the AFS Convention, following the adoption, in 2021, of amendments to include controls on the biocide cybutryne. The amendments enter into force on 1 January 2023. Ships shall not apply or re-apply anti-fouling systems containing this substance from 1 January 2023. Ships shall remove or apply a sealer coating to AFS with this substance at the next scheduled renewal of the anti-fouling system after 1 January 2023, but no later than 60 months following the last application to the ship of an anti-fouling system containing cybutryne.
The draft amendments relate to:
Guidelines for brief sampling of anti-fouling systems on ships;
Guidelines for inspection of anti-fouling systems on ships; and
Guidelines for survey and certification of anti-fouling systems on ships.
Revision of the Biofouling Guidelines
The Sub-Committee continued its work to review the 2011 Biofouling Guidelines. The Correspondence Group on Review of the Biofouling Guidelines was re-established to finalize the draft revised Biofouling Guidelines, with a view to approval by PPR 10.
Type approval of ballast water management systems
The Sub-Committee agreed the draft revised Guidance on methodologies that may be used for enumerating viable organisms for type approval of ballast water management systems, with a view to approval at MEPC 78 and dissemination as BWM.2/Circ.61/Rev.1.
Protocol for verification of ballast water compliance monitoring devices
The Sub-Committee further developed a draft protocol for verification of ballast water compliance monitoring devices. The Correspondence Group on Development of a Protocol for Verification of Ballast Water Compliance Monitoring Devices was re‑established to finalize the draft protocol, with a view to approval by PPR 10.
Performance of sewage treatment plants
The Sub-Committee continued its work on revision of MARPOL Annex IV and associated guidelines to introduce provisions for record-keeping and measures to confirm the lifetime performance of sewage treatment plants. The MEPC was recommended to amend the title of output to “Revision of MARPOL Annex IV and associated guidelines to introduce provisions for record-keeping and measures to confirm the lifetime performance of sewage treatment plants; and further, on new ships, a prohibition of fitting comminuting and disinfecting systems (CDS)”. The Correspondence Group on Amendments to MARPOL Annex IV and Associated Guidelines was re-established to continue the work.
Draft unified interpretations of provisions of IMO environment-related conventions
The Sub-Committee agreed to the following draft unified interpretations for approval by MEPC 78:
a draft unified interpretation of appendix I to the BWM Convention (Form of International Ballast Water Management Certificate), concerning the principal ballast water management method(s) employed on the ship; and
a draft unified interpretation on the application of regulation 18.3 MARPOL Annex VI to biofuels.
The Sub-Committee also agreed to a draft amendment to the existing unified interpretation of paragraph 188.8.131.52 of the NOx Technical Code 2008, to make the interpretation (see MEPC.1/Circ.895) applicable to the “Engine Family” concept under certain circumstances .