Is Ballast Water Management Convention on the Back Burner ?

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The installation timeframe for the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention has been thrown back into uncertainty after fresh proposals at the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee last week.

One legacy of last week’s 70th meeting of IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 70) is uncertainty over the implementation timetable for the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC).  The deadline for complying with the discharge standards set out in the convention’s Regulation D-2 is linked to a ship’s International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) certificate renewal, which has to be done every five years, at most.

Proposals considered:

The proposals considered included changing the implementation deadline to The second IOPP renewal survey after entry into force; the first IOPP renewal survey after the IMO determines sufficient systems meeting newly finalised testing and certification guidelines (G8 guidelines) are available; or allowing vessels whose compliance dates fall within two years after entry into force to comply only after their second IOPP renewal survey.  The other adds an exception: if that survey is completed before 8 September 2019, the compliance date would be at the first IOPP renewal survey completed after September 8, 2019.  That would potentially extend compliance well into 2024 for some ships.

Liberia’s proposal:

Liberia submitted one alternative proposal for the implementation timeframe, with another document submitted by a group including India, the International Chamber of Shipping and BIMCO

David Pascoe, senior vice president, operations & standards at LISCR (the manager of the Liberian Registry), said: “There are two major constraints affecting smooth implementation and compliance with the convention – namely, lack of availability of systems that will meet the performance standards and the evident lack of sufficient installation capacity.

“We are pleased that MEPC 70 adopted and advocates the early use of new guidelines for approval of BWM systems.  Concerns remain, however, that it might be several years before new IMO-approved equipment is readily available and that tens of thousands of ships may be required to install existing systems that may not fully comply with the convention standards.”

He also disputed there was a lack of capacity, saying Liberia’s figures were based on current yard production levels, which he said do not reflect actual capacity because of the downturn in the shipping market.  “Liberia’s proposal makes no sense,” he said.

Summary published:

A summary of MEPC 70 published by class society ABS said it was unfortunate “the lack of a decision on a single D-2 implementation scheme leaves the industry in a predicament” because there is no agreed implementation scheme that will be applied when the convention enters into force.  “Shipowners should, therefore, take into account both schemes when considering compliance planning,” it advised.

In its notes, the world’s largest class society, DNV GL, said a proposal with new implementation dates will be evaluated at MEPC 71 in May 2017 for possible adoption at MEPC 72 in March 2018 and confirmed: “this means there is still uncertainty regarding application dates.”

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Reference: The Motorship, Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

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