MEPC 74 due in May: What is on the agenda

The Marine Environment Protection Committee’s (MEPC), 74th session is scheduled to take place in 13-17 May 2019. The key subjects to be discussed will be adoption of amendments to IMO mandatory instruments, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships, implementation of the sulphur 2020 limit, marine plastic litter action plan, ballast water management Convention implementation, approval of guidance and other matters, technical cooperation and capacity building and seminar on ship recycling.

Adoption of amendments

  • ​MARPOL amendments – Cargo residues and tank washings of persistent floating noxious liquid substances

MEPC is expected to adopt draft amendments to MARPOL Annex II to strengthen, in specified sea areas, discharge requirements for cargo residues and tank washings containing persistent floating products with a high-viscosity and/or a high melting point that can solidify under certain conditions (e.g. certain vegetable oils and paraffin-like cargoes), following concerns about the environmental impact of permissible discharges.

The draft amendments add new paragraphs to MARPOL Annex II Regulation 13 – Control of discharges of residues of noxious liquid substances, to require prewash and discharge of residue/water mixture generated during the prewash to a reception facility, for specific products, in specified areas.

  • MARPOL amendments – use of electronic record books

Draft MARPOL Amendments to allow for electronic record books to be used are set to be adopted, for Annex I – Oil Record Book Part I – Machinery space operations and Oil Record Book Part II – Cargo/ballast operations; Annex II – Cargo Record Book; and Annex V – Garbage Record Book; and Annex VI for records relating to Regulation 12 – Ozone-depleting substances, Regulation 13 – Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and Regulation 14 – Sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter

  • MARPOL amendments – EEDI regulations for ice-strengthened ships

Another draft amendment to MARPOL Annex VI are set to be adopted, relating to the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) regulations for ice-strengthened ships, replacing the words “cargo ships having ice-breaking capability” with “category A ships as defined in the Polar Code”.

  • IBC Code amendments

The MEPC is expected to adopt a comprehensive set of draft amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), including the draft revised chapters 17 (Summary of minimum requirements), 18 (List of products to which the code does not apply), 19 (Index of Products Carried in Bulk) and 21 (Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code). Consequential draft amendments to the Code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk (BCH Code) are also expected to be adopted.

  • NOx Technical Code 2008 amendments

The draft amendments relate to the use of Electronic Record Books, and Certification requirements for selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems.

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships

  • IMO Initial GHG Strategy

The MEPC will discuss on how to implement the initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, which was adopted in April 2018.

  • Expected results at MEPC 74

The MEPC is expected to approve the terms of reference and initiate the Fourth IMO GHG Study.

The Committee will also consider establishing a voluntary multi-donor trust fund to sustain the Organization’s technical cooperation and capacity-building activities to support the implementation of the Initial GHG Strategy.

Feeding in to the process towards the adoption of a revised Strategy in 2023 will be the data collection system on fuel oil consumption of ships over 5,000 gross tons, which began on 1 January 2019. The Committee is expected to agree on methodology for conducting the analysis of ship fuel oil consumption data.

  • Further work on energy efficiency of ships, meaning the EEDI review

The MEPC is expected to approve draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to strengthen the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) “phase 3” requirements.

The MEPC will also discuss the minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions.

Implementation of the sulphur 2020 limit

  • Expected outcomes at MEPC 74

MEPC 74 is expected to approve draft guidelines and guidance documents, developed by the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 6), including:

  1. 2019 Guidelines for consistent implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI;
  2. 2019 Guidelines for port State control under the revised MARPOL Annex VI;
  3. guidance for port State control on contingency measures for addressing non-compliant fuel oil;
  4. MEPC Circular on the 2019 Guidelines for on board sampling for the verification of the sulphur content of the fuel oil used on board ships;
  5. MSC-MEPC circular on Delivery of compliant fuel oil by suppliers, subject to approval by MSC 101 in June.

Also, the Committee will also consider proposals relating to the enhancement of the implementation of MARPOL Annex VI regulation 18, which covers fuel oil quality and availability.

Marine plastic litter action plan

The MEPC is expected to, inter alia, develop the terms of reference for a study on marine-plastic litter from ships, based on the work carried out by a correspondence group that had been instructed to identify issues to be considered under an IMO study on marine plastic litter from ships; determine the most appropriate mechanism to undertake the study; and develop a regulatory framework matrix to identify all international regulatory instruments and best practices associated with the issue of marine plastic litter from ships.

Ballast water management treaty implementation

The MEPC is expected to approve amendments to the BWM Convention and the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS Code), concerning commissioning testing of ballast water management systems as well as amendments to the form of the International Ballast Water Management Certificate.

MEPC 74 will also consider proposals for approval of ballast water management systems that make use of Active Substances.

Approval of other amendments, guidance and other matters

Amongst other matters, the MEPC is expected to:

  • approve draft amendments, for future adoption, to the International Convention for the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships (AFS Convention), to include controls on the biocide cybutryne.
  • approve four circulars containing new or updated guidance relevant to the assessment and carriage of chemicals in bulk, including the draft revised MEPC circular on the Guidelines for the provisional assessment of liquid substances transported in bulk.
  • approve the methodology to analyze the impacts of a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel in Arctic waters.
  • approve the draft Guide on practical implementation of the pollution prevention and response treaties (OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol).

Technical cooperation and capacity building activities

In order to implement IMO’s environment-related instruments, technical cooperation and capacity building activities have played a very important role at IMO.

During the MEPC, these TC activities, including several Major Projects, will be introduced and updates will be presented.

In the meantime, a new Global Partnership Project will be announced on Monday 13 May.

Concluding, during MEPC 74, a International Seminar on Ship Recycling will be conducted, which is organized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan in cooperation with the IMO Secretariat, and aims to increase international awareness of the importance of the early entry into force of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (Hong Kong Convention).