Ballast water: IMO MEPC 67 update

Ballast water

Published: 28 October 2014

The Association compiled its update from a number of sources, but would like to thank Intertanko for continuing to provide a close follow up to MEPC related issues to its members.

The developments

Shipowners the world over will have been keenly following the developments at the IMO's 67th meeting of its MEPC (the Marine Environmental Protection Committee) in London this October during which key issues were on the table that will have a direct impact on shipowner's bottom line and significantly affect their future operating environment.

Key developments were:

  • type approval standards of Ballast Water Treatment (BWT) systems are to be reviewed, so called G8 standards, with the aim of tightening them and creating greater confidence for shipowners in such systems
  • shipowners who were early investors in the BWT technology are not to be penalised, so called "Grandfathering" of existing systems that comply with present standards (note: the words "Grandfathering" were not specifically used in the final wording), precise details to follow from the IMO as to how this is meant to work in a regulatory framework
  • tightening of criteria on the basis of which port state control may choose to sample a vessel's ballast water to check against possible standard infringements
  • Ballast Water Treatment Convention ratification: Japan and Turkey announced their ratification adding significantly to the global tonnage that is now signed up, Jordan had also ratified the convention
  • 51 systems have present IMO type approval

Other important matters included issues with respect to greenhouse gas emissions from shipping as well as operational efficiency standards, and the further development of regulations (including the Polar Code) in respect of polar regions, which are matters that owners will need to take a continued interest in, because the regulators will certainly continue to drive these matters forward.

Going forward

The shipping industry faces an increasing regulatory burden in the future and the trend is towards more regulatory measures in the future. Upcoming ultra low sulphur fuel and ballast water treatment provisions have grabbed most of the headlines this year, but there is much more that is happening and will be happening going forward.

Shipowners will need to ensure that they are in a position to be alive to these developments and respond to them timely or risk losing out on both legal as well as market share fronts.

While compliance is first and foremost a shipowner's own responsibility, the Association will continue to seek to support members in identifying relevant regulatory changes and address how these may impact a particular member.