The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee held its 71st Session (MEPC 71) from Monday 3 through Friday 7 July 2017 under the Chairmanship of Mr Arsenio Domingues (PANAMA) and his Vice-Chair, Mr Hideako Saito (JAPAN).  Mr Domingues chaired the Committee for a final time, having chosen to stand down from re-election, following which Mr Saito was promoted to Chair MEPC 72, and will be assisted by his newly elected Vice-Chair, Mr H Conway (LIBERIA).


Two Working Groups (WG) , one Drafting Group (DG), one Review Group (RG) and one Technical Group (TG) were formed and chaired as follows:


WG1    Air pollution and energy efficiency, Mr K Yoshida (JAPAN)

WG2    Reduction of GHG emissions from ships, Mr S Oftedal (NORWAY)

DG1    Amendments to mandatory instruments, Mr H Steinbock (GERMANY)

RG1    Ballast water management, Mr C Wiley (CANADA)

TG1     PSSAs, Mrs A Makinen (FINLAND)


The meeting was attended by representatives from 98 Member States, plus 2 Associates, 3 UN and Special Agencies, 8 Inter-Governmental and 50 Non-Governmental organisations.  The InterManager delegation was assisted by one of our Associate Members, Seagull UK, and also SGS, three of whom helped us cover proceedings in both Plenary and the Ballast Water Working Group.  SGS also gave a lunch-time presentation in concert with IMarEST regarding the challenges presented by Ballast Water sampling and analysis, copy of which will be posted on the InterManager website.


Matters of most interest to InterManager members are as follows:


  • IMO SECRETARY GENERAL’S ADDRESS The Secretary General, Mr Ki Tack Lim, welcomed everyone.  He reminded all that this year’s IMO theme is that of “Connecting Ships, Ports and People” which fits neatly with the IMO’s goal of actively working towards the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Shipping is an essential component of any programme for sustainable development and is the engine that keeps the global economy moving, facilitating commerce and helping to create prosperity among nations.  However, it needs to be regulated on a global basis such that no-one is allowed to gain advantage either by cutting corners or by imposing unilateral requirements.  Thus the IMO ensures that ships have to comply with the same rules and technical standards wherever in the world they operate, and regardless of which flag they fly.


The Secretary General had no doubt that two items on the meeting agenda would dominate the discussions, that of preventing atmospheric pollution from ships, including the reduction of GHG emissions, and the implementation of the BWM Convention which enters into force on 8 September this year.  Data presented to the Committee clearly identifies significant improvements in the energy efficiency of new ships and the adopted mandatory data collection system for fuel oil consumption of ships which comes into force in March 2018, will also assist.


The Secretary General welcomed the good progress made by the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from ships which will enable the development of an initial ‘IMO GHG Strategy’.  In a similar vein, following confirmation of the global limit of the sulphur content of ships’ fuel, there exists the major task of ‘Consistent implementation of regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI’ for the Committee to discuss.  Rounding off his somewhat lengthy address, Mr Lim reminded delegates that this session will be the last MEPC meeting before entry into force of the BWM Convention for which several important tasks still exist.  These include draft amendments to the Convention, most notably on regulation B-3 on the implementation schedule for  installation of BWM systems, the Code for approval of BWM systems and finalisation of the manual ‘Ballast Water Management – How to do it’.  He mentioned several other items requiring attention, namely designation of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea Emission Control Areas for Nox Tier III control, one final and two proposed PSSAs and finally, approval of a set of updated OPRC Model Training Courses.


  • AMENDMENTS TO MANDATORY INSTRUMENTS. Following Plenary discussion, DG1 was formed.  Its report back to the Committee was subsequently approved in general, and in particular, the Committee:


  1. adopted draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI related to the designation of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea Emission Control Areas for NOx Tier III emission control and to appendix V of MARPOL Annex VI concerning information to be included in the bunker delivery note, together with its associated MEPC resolution;
  2. noted that, whilst the format of the information provided in the bunker delivery note, notably the checkboxes, gives the impression that it should be used as a template of the declaration but this is not the case; and
  3. agreed that the entry-into-force date of some minor amendments to Annex VI of MARPOL should be 1 January 2019.


  • HARMFUL ACQUATIC ORGANISMS IN BALLAST WATER. It was recalled that the BWM Convention will enter into force on 8 September 2017, currently signed up to by 60 Contracting Governments, representing 68.45% of world tonnage.  A total of 49 documents were submitted under this agenda item leading to protracted discussions in Plenary.  This was necessary in order to frame precise terms of reference for the well-attended Ballast Water Review Group (RG1), whose findings were approved in general by the Committee, and in particular:


  1. endorsed the GESAMP-BWWG recommendations as to when BWM systems using drinking water should seek approval in accordance with Procedure (G9);
  2. endorsed revised ‘Methodology for information gathering and conduct of GESAMP-BWWG work’, to be disseminated as a BWM Circular;
  3. agreed that the revised Methodology should be applied to all submissions for Basic Approval at MEPC 74 and onwards, and subsequent submissions for Final Approval of those systems;
  4. requested GESAMP-BWWG to specify recommended amendments to Procedure (G9) consequential to the review of Guidelines (G8);
  5. approved the draft Code for approval of BWM systems (BWMS Code) and draft MEPC Resolution for adoption at MEPC 72;
  6. approved related draft amendments to Regulations A-1 and D-3 of the BWMC making the Code mandatory;
  7. approved Guidance on contingency measures under the BWMC, to be disseminated as a BWM.2 circular;
  8. noted agreement within RG1 that Guidelines (G4) should be reviewed as part of the experience-building phase associated with the BWMC;
  9. approved a draft circular on Application of the BWMC to ships operating in sea areas where BW exchange i.a.w. regulations B-4.1 and D-1 is not possible;
  10. approved a draft unified interpretation (UI) of the ‘Date installed’ in relation to ‘Methods of BWM used’ in the appendix to the International BWM Certificate (in principle, until after the in force date);
  11. adopted a draft MEPC resolution on the 2017 Guidelines for ballast water exchange (G6);
  12. approved revised Guidance on entry or re-entry of ships into exclusive operation within waters under the jurisdiction of a single Party, requesting the Secretariat to issue as a Circular;
  13. adopted a draft MEPC resolution on the 2017 Guidelines for risk assessment under regulation A-4 of the BWMC (G7);
  14. approved the finalised manual ‘Ballast Water management – How to do it’ for publication;
  15. adopted an MEPC resolution on ‘The experience-building phase associated with the BWMC; and
  16. requested the Secretariat to assess the cost of the data gathering and analysis plan for the experience-building phase, informing MEPC 72.


With regard to BWM Implementation Scheme compliance, the Class Society ABS Summary of the proposed amended scheme for the BWMC is commended for its clarity, a preview of which was circulated by the Secretary General of InterManager earlier this week under the link:,abs-clarifies-proposed-bwmc-compliance-amendment_48358.htm


InterManager joined forces with InterCargo requesting a revision to Regulation B-3 where for existing ships only and those fitted with gravity discharge topside tanks, the use of ‘extended ballast water exchange’ could be used for these tanks only, with the remaining BW treated by a BW treatment system to be fitted on all existing vessels in any case.  Following a debate of satisfactory length, the vote on which was pretty evenly divided, the Chairman reluctantly ruled that our proposal relates to operational matters and interpreting regulations D-1 and D-2 of the BWMC, rather than the implementation timeline set out in regulation B-3.  However, it was felt that a more detailed proposal containing a draft UI should ideally be submitted to PPR 5 for consideration.


  • AIR POLLUTION AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY Following Plenary discussion on the outcome of sub-committee PPR 4, which included Black Carbon (Arctic), Exhaust Gas recirculation (EGR) bleed off water, best practice for fuel oil purchasers and users, also Member State/Coastal State, ozone depleting substances, Sulphur monitoring, UIs on engine test cycles and fuel oil samples, terms of reference were given to WG1 on Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency whose subsequent report was in general approved by the Committee, and which the Committee also:


  1. noted WG1’s discussion on draft best practice for fuel oil purchasers/users;
  2. invited further consideration of draft best practice for fuel oil purchasers/users at MEPC 72;
  3. noted WG1’s discussion on reference parameters for ro-ro cargo and ro-ro passenger ships including DWT threshold values for large size ships;
  4. agreed amendments to regulation 21 of MARPOL Annex VI regarding EEDI requirements for ro-ro cargo/passenger ships with a view to adoption at MEPC 72;
  5. noted WG1’s discussion on EEDI reduction requirements and correction factors for ice class ships;
  6. endorsed the timeline for a Correspondence Group (CG) to work on EEDI review beyond phase 2 and that one of the items proposed in document MEPC 71/5/2 should be dealt with in discussing minimum propulsion power for ships;
  7. established a CG on EEDI review beyond phase 2;
  8. endorsed the lack of need to amend the regulation related to a major conversion under Chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI;
  9. adopted the 2017 guidelines for Administrative verification of ship fuel oil consumption data and associated MEPC resolution;
  10. adopted the 2017 Guidelines for the Development and management of the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database together with associated MEPC resolution;
  11. endorsed development of the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database, including data reporting format and submission, data validation and cross-referencing, granularity and anonymity of data, database access and data available to users, data analysis and export, alerts and Administration contact person and designation of ice class;
  12. approved a draft MEPC Circular on submission of data to the IMO data collection system of fuel oil consumption data from a ship NOT entitled to fly the flag of a Party to MARPOL Annex VI;
  13. noted the discussion on offshore and marine contracting vessels, including data submission to the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database, data analysis stage and an appropriate transport proxy for these types of vessels;
  14. invited all, in cooperation with IMCA, to submit proposals for guidance on how to deal with offshore and marine contracting vessels under the IMO data collection system;
  15. noted the outcome of discussions on a proxy for transport work for cruise passenger ships and also, that WG1 had agreed to keep proposed amendments to the 2016 SEEMP Guidelines in abeyance; and
  16. agreed to consider proposed amendments to the 2016 Guidelines for the development of a Ship Energy Efficiency Plan (SEEMP) at a future session of the Committee.


  • REDUCTION OF GHG EMISSIONS FROM SHIPS. It was recalled that MEPC 70 had approved ‘The Roadmap for developing a comprehensive IMO Strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships (the Roadmap) and that C 117 had agreed to establish two meetings of an intersessional working group (ISWG) in 2017, the first in the week preceding MEPC 71 and the other from 23 to 27 October.   At its inaugural meeting, ISWG-GHG1 took note of elements specifically identified to be considered under the Roadmap, including a list of candidate measures.


Having briefly discussed in Plenary, UNFCCC matters and proposals on GHG emission reduction of ships, the Committee established WG2, instructing it to:


  1. develop an outline for the structure of the draft initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships;
  2. further consider how to progress such reduction; and
  3. prepare Terms of Reference for the second and third ISWG meetings on GHG.


Having considered the report of WG2, the Committee approved it in general and noted the draft outline for the structure of the initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, as follows:


  1. Preamble/introduction/context including emission scenarios
  2. Vision
  3. Levels of ambition

Guiding principles

  1. List of candidate short-, mid- and long-term further measures with possible timelines and their impact on States
  2. Barriers and supportive measures, capacity building and technical cooperation; R&D
  3. Follow-up actions towards development of the revised Strategy
  4. Periodic review of the Strategy


  • IDENTIFICATION AND PROTECTION OF SPECIAL AREAS AND PSSAs. The Committee established a Technical Group (TG1) on PSSAs and following their report, approved it in general, and in particular:
  1. adopted the draft MEPC resolution on designating the Tubbataha Reefs National Park (TRNP) as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA); and
  2. noted TG1’s discussion regarding the proposal to designate Pulan Kukup (Kukup Island) and Tanjing Piai (Cape Piai) parks as a PSSA.


  • POLLUTION PREVENTION AND RESPONSE. The Committee approved, in general, the report of PPR 4 (Pollution Prevention and Response Sub-Committee) and took action as follows:
  1. endorsed the ‘Evaluation of Products’;
  2. endorsed the evaluation of cleaning additives;
  3. approved, in principle, a draft revised chapter 21 of the IBC Code, pending finalisation of revised chapters 17 and 18 of the Code, for simultaneous circulation with a view to adoption’
  4. in considering the OSV Chemical Code, agreed to delete the words “only those offshore related” at the beginning of para for reasons of clarity, and
  5. approved OPRC (Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation) model training courses as set out in document PPR4/21/Add.2 and PPR4/21/Add.3 (PPR4/21Annex7), and requested the Secretariat to carry out final editing and publish the courses through the IMO Publishing Service.


  • DATE OF NEXT MEETING. 9 – 13 April 2018


Captain Paddy McKnight