IMO’s Initiatives And Achievements Of 2015


The International Maritime Organization has followed a wide range of safety and environment protections initiatives in the year 2015.



  • In IMO Conference, Manila, Philippines – Guidelines on the safe operation of coastal and inter-island passenger ships, not involved in the international voyages, were adopted.  The guidelines can also be used to check the daily operation of ships that are already providing passenger services.  It addresses:
    • the purchasing, converting or modifying second-hand ships for use in domestic passenger services
    • changes in operating limits
    • counting passengers and voyage planning.
  • Adoption of a new mandatory code for ships fuelled by gases or other low-flashpoint fuels (IGF Code), together with associated SOLAS amendments.  It contains mandatory provisions to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment.  The provisions include:
    • the arrangement
    • installation
    • control and monitoring of machinery and equipment and systems using low-flashpoint fuels.
  • Adoption of the related amendments to the STCW Convention and Code on requirements for training and certifying personnel serving on ships subject to the IGF Code.
  • Warnings issued to the ship masters regarding the possible dangers of liquefaction associated with carrying bauxite.  Following the loss of the bulk carrier Bulk Jupiter carrying 46,600 tons of bauxite, a research to evaluate the properties of bauxite is being carried out, with a view to amend the IMSBC (International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes) Code in future.
  • IMO guidelines on fatigue was initiated by the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping.
  • Training:
    • Requirements for training and certifying personnel serving on ships operating in polar waters were agreed, in the form of amendments to the STCW Convention (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) and Code.
    • Mandatory crowd management training for key personnel was agreed, in principle, in a review of passenger ship training requirements.
  • Progress was made on the review of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).  The GMDSS defines the radio communication equipment and procedures to be used in distress situations and it became fully operational in 1999.
  • A modernization plan, which will take into account new technologies, is expected to be completed in 2017 and approved in 2018.
  • Requirements for evacuation analysis will be extended to all passenger ships, not just ro-ro passenger ships, as part of the ongoing work program to improve passenger ship safety.
  • Draft amendments to SOLAS to clarify when watertight doors may be opened during a voyage were also approved. These will apply to all ships.
  • The long-term action plan on passenger ship safety was updated, to include among other initiatives, development of guidelines for comprehensive risk assessment, passage planning and position monitoring; effective bridge resource management and to remove distractions.

Environmental Protection:

  • Adoption of the environmental part of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (the Polar Code).
  • The environmental part of the Code is mandatory and covers prevention of pollution by oil, control of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk, prevention of pollution by sewage and garbage from ships, adding additional restrictions to the discharges permitted under MARPOL.
  • IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) progressed development of a data collection system for ships’ fuel consumption, to help analyze energy efficiency.
  • The eastern limit of the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) was extended to encompass the south-west part of the Coral Sea, part of Australia’s Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR), a remote ocean ecosystem which provides refuge for a wide range of threatened, migratory and commercially valuable species.
  • Adoption of associated protective measures to reduce the risk of ship collisions and groundings by separating opposing traffic streams, while ensuring ships keep clear of reefs, shoals and islets.
  • Ships that install ballast water management systems approved in accordance with the current Guidelines (G8) should not be penalized, according to the “Roadmap for the implementation of the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention” agreed this year.
  • Implementing the BWM Convention:
    • Progress has been made in reviewing the guidelines for approval of BWM systems (G8), including agreement on several amendments and, in principle, on making these guidelines mandatory.
    • The MEPC also agreed to amend regulation B-3 of the convention with regard to the schedule of compliance with the ballast water performance standard for ships once the convention enters into force.
    • These activities are expected to be finalized at MEPC 69 in April 2016.
  • The availability review of fuel oil compliant with the global requirements that the sulfur content of fuel oil used on board ships shall not exceed 0.50 percent m/m on and after January 1, 2020, was initiated, with a view to the final report being submitted to IMO in autumn 2016.
  • Two sets of guidelines to assist in oil spill response were finalized and approved:
  • Guidelines on international offers of assistance in response to a marine oil pollution incident.
  • Guidelines for the use of dispersants for combating oil pollution at sea – Part III (Operational and technical sheets for surface application of dispersants).  Parts I (Basic information on dispersants and their application) and II (Template for national policy for use of dispersants) have already been approved and Part IV, covering sub-sea dispersant application, is currently under development.
  • A report published the IMO-hosted group GESAMP entitled ‘Sources, fates and effects of microplastics in the marine environment – a global assessment’ identified a number of recommendations to reduce the growing threat from microplastics in the marine environment.
  • GESAMP also established a working group on marine geoengineering which could assist London Protocol Parties to identify geoengineering techniques that might be listed listing in the Protocol’s new annex 4.

Source: IMO