The shipping industry are lobbying for ballast water convention solution for the final time before a crucial IMO meeting next week.
Following an extensive campaign, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and its member national shipowners’ associations are using the last few days before the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meets to address a number of issues still concerning the industry including the lack of robustness of the current IMO type-approval process for the expensive new treatment equipment, the criteria to be used for sampling ballast water during Port State Control inspections, and the need for ‘grandfathering’ of type-approved equipment already or about to be fitted.
ICS has made a detailed submission to the MEPC explaining its concerns and proposing a way forward. This MEPC Resolution would work as what the ICS are calling a “gentleman’s agreement” by IMO Member States that necessary actions will be taken with respect to the Convention’s implementation as soon as it enters into force, and that shipowners who have installed new equipment, in good faith, and who operate and maintain it correctly, will not be unfairly penalised.
On the basis of recent contact with governments, ICS believes that there is now greater understanding of the industry’s concern that new equipment, which has been type-approved in accordance with agreed IMO standards, might subsequently be deemed to be non-complaint. There is growing recognition that it is unreasonable to expect shipowners to invest millions of dollars per ship without any certainty that the equipment will not have to be completely replaced.
ICS stated that it was pleased that the government of Canada, previously sceptical about the industry’s concerns, now appears to acknowledge that there is a serious problem, but believes the solution Canada has proposed to IMO, does nothing to address the industry’s fundamental concerns and could actually make implementation even more complicated.
The ICS has come out to say that outstanding problems must be addressed now, in advance of the convention receiving the necessary number of ratifications by governments to enter into force. IMO Member States are therefore being strongly encouraged to consider the draft MEPC Resolution proposed by the industry as the base document for the development of a solution by IMO. The industry wishes to ensure that the Convention will indeed be fit for purpose and that shipowners can prepare for immediate implementation of a new regime that is fair while delivering necessary environmental protection.