MEPC 77 took place 22-26 November 2021 as a virtual meeting hosted from the IMO in London.
Three virtual working groups were established during the session; a ballast water review group (Agenda item 4); working group on air pollution and energy efficiency (Agenda Items 5 and 6); and working group on marine plastic litter (Agenda Item 8) reporting to the committee.
As was the case during previous MEPC sessions, due to Covid-19 and a virtual/hybrid meeting arrangement, delegations noted and agreed on a selection of proposals covered under various agenda items prior to the meeting with the remainder considered during the plenary session.
Below are some of the discussions and decisions from MEPC 77 which will have some impact on current practices. These can be found in detail under the relevant subject headings in the document.
GHG reduction mid and long-term measures / R&D (Agenda item 7)
Short term GHG-reduction measures (Operational Carbon Intensity) (Agenda item 7)
Aquatic environment (Agenda item 4)
Black carbon and Fuel (Agenda item 9)
Marine Plastic Litter (Agenda item 8)
Decisions of other bodies(Agenda item 2)
In the interest of time, proposals under this item were considered entirely through correspondence before the virtual meeting.
MEPC 77 considered the outcomes of MSC 103, FAL 45, C 125 and LEG 108 on matters of relevance to its work, some of which are outlined below:
Outcomes of MSC 103
Identification and protection of special areas, ECAs and PSSAs(Agenda item 3)
The Mediterranean is recognised as an area of significant maritime activity, both transport and leisure. It is thought that these activities; particularly maritime transport, pose a risk to the diverse natural marine habitat, particularly large marine mammals such as whales.
Recognising the need for conservation of such marine biodiversity, a proposal submitted by a group of interested member States to conduct a feasibility study to assign the north-western Mediterranean basin as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) was noted by MEPC 77.
Areas assigned as PSSA require specific measures to be observed by ships, such as routeing, stringent MARPOL discharge requirements and installation of Vessel Traffic Services. Today, some designated PSSAs include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Canary Islands in Spain, and the Baltic Sea area.
Harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water(Agenda Item 4)
Taking into account the number of topics requiring attention and due to time constraints of a remote meeting, some discussions have taken place by correspondence ahead of the debate during MEPC 77. A working group was established during the session.
MEPC 77 considered the following matters under this agenda:
Approval of ballast water management systems (BWMS)
Information on a number of BWMS was reviewed and the following action taken: FlowSafe BWMS: Final approval was not granted this time.
Ballast Water Review Group
MEPC 77 took the following actions for the topics considered by the group:
The draft BWM.2 Circular on guidance for the application of the BWM Convention to ships operating at ports with challenging water quality could not be finalised during this session due to time constraints. It was recognised that this was a complex issue that required further consideration and, as such, MEPC 77 invited further proposals taking into consideration certain fundamental elements for future guidance, as agreed during this session.
Regulations E-1.1.1 and E-1.1.5 of the BWM Convention, as amended by MEPC.325(75), do not provide the effective date for implementing commissioning testing of individual BWMS installed on board ships, leading to inconsistency in applying the regulations. With a view to promoting uniform application of the regulations, a proposal that the implementation of commissioning testing should be based on the actual “completion date” of the applicable surveys after the installation of BWMS on board new and existing ships, was approved by MEPC 77.
Other Matters related to Ballast Water
MEPC 77 deferred the following matters to be discussed intersessionally and to report to MEPC 78:
Air pollution prevention and energy efficiency(Agenda Items 5 and 6)
MEPC 77 considered the discussions of the working group on Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency as follows:
2021 Guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCSs)
Evaluation and harmonisation of rules and guidance on the discharge of discharge water from EGCS into the aquatic environment, including conditions and areas
Due to the wide differences in opinion on the impact of EGCS discharge water on the marine ecosystem, MEPC 77 recognised a need for uniform legislation to better control aquatic pollution and to address any economic impacts for the maritime industry.
Following consideration by the working group, MEPC 77 approved the draft scope of work on "Evaluation and harmonization of rules and guidance on the discharge of discharge water from EGCS into the aquatic environment, including conditions and areas" with a target completion year of 2022 and PPR 9 (expected April 2022) was tasked with undertaking this work.
MEPC.1/Circ.883/Rev.1 - Revised MEPC circular on Guidance on indication of ongoing compliance in the case of the failure of a single monitoring instrument, and recommended actions to take if the EGCS fails to meet the provisions of the EGCS Guidelines
MEPC 74 approved the Guidance on indication of ongoing compliance in the case of the failure of a single monitoring instrument, and recommended actions to take if the Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS) fails to meet the provisions of the 2015 EGCS Guidelines (resolution MEPC.259(68)) (MEPC.1/Circ.883). The circular acted as statutory guidance for instances when the EGCS malfunctions, leading to potential instances where emissions may temporarily exceed the required regulatory threshold.
MEPC 77 considered arguments for and against a proposal to amend MEPC.1/Circ.883 that, in the interests of safety and to permit completion of a ship’s intended voyage, allows the immediate use of non-compliant fuel oil in the event of an EGCS failure, after the relevant flag and port State's Administrations have been informed.
Consequently, the revised circular was approved by MEPC 77 revoking MEPC.1/Circ.883.
Approved MEPC.1/Circ.896 on 2021 Guidance on treatment of innovative energy efficiency technologies for calculation and verification of the attained EEDI and EEXI.
The 2013 Guidance on treatment of innovative energy efficiency technologies for calculation and verification of the attained EEDI (MEPC.1/Circ.815) was agreed by MEPC 65 and circulated to assist stakeholders and innovators by providing a methodology for calculation, survey and certification of innovative energy efficiency technologies, i.e., those that were not already covered by the available EEDI guidance. The guidance was to be kept under review to provide for experience gained in the use of such technologies, but also to cover newer energy efficiency developments as they occurred. Wind assisted propulsion systems (WAPS) is one example where a need to further develop existing guidance has been identified by a number of proposals.
MEPC 77, after considering a number of proposals under WAPS, approved the 2021 Guidance on treatment of innovative energy efficiency technologies for calculation and verification of the attained EEDI and EEXI.
The amendments revoke MEPC.1/Circ.815.
In approving the guidance, MEPC 77 was presented with two options for the calculation of the wind matrix, out of which the option of using the upper half of the wind matrix where the ½ is related to the probability and not to the number of elements was considered a "more realistic option" in terms of real fuel savings gained.
It was agreed to keep the guidance under review until sufficient experience was gained in its application.
MARPOL Annex VI – Fuel oil availability and quality
MEPC 77 considered the following actions for these subjects:
MARPOL Annex VI – IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption database
MEPC 77 approved, in principle, the report of fuel oil consumption data for 2020 and acknowledge the following recommendations:
The following topics currently under Agenda Item 6 are deferred to MEPC 78:
Reduction of GHG emissions from ships(Agenda Item 7)
MEPC 77 considered the following under this agenda item:
Outcome of Ninth - Intersessional working group on reduction of greenhouse gases from ships (ISWG-GHG 9)
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of Maritime Fuels
Draft guidance for LCA of maritime fuel is currently in initial stages of preparation. Challenges were identified particularly in the upstream side i.e. well to tank as IMO cannot have an oversight of global fuel production processes. There were suggestions of classification or labelling of fuels based on carbon source and other sustainability aspects. These include fossil, biomass, zero-carbon, gas biofuels, etc.
MEPC 77 invited further discussions and encouraged expert advice to further inform the development of LCA guidelines during subsequent ISWG-GHG discussions.
Methane Slip and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
On a proposal to amend MARPOL to address volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions, it was considered by the working group that more work was needed to substantiate the requirement for amendments to Regulation 15 of MARPOL Annex VI. There were views that the VOC control system on tankers is relatively mature and, as such, the additional cost of fine tuning an established system versus the environmental benefits needed further consideration. Discussions on VOC emissions are to continue within subsequent ISWG-GHG meetings with support from the PPR sub-committee, as appropriate.
Methane slip will be considered within the context of the LCA guidelines at subsequent ISWG-GHG sessions.
Outcome of Tenth - Intersessional working group on reduction of greenhouse gases from ships (ISWG-GHG 10)
MEPC 77 considered the following discussions arising out of the work of ISWG-GHG 10:
Interim report of the correspondence group on carbon intensity reduction
MEPC 77 noted the urgency of developing and adopting the outstanding guidelines associated with the implementation of short-term measures.
Development of carbon intensity code
Consideration of mid-term GHG reduction measures – Phase 1 of development
Revision of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy – level of ambition for 2050
MEPC 77 heard appeals - particularly by a number of small island developing states (SIDS) - for the shipping industry to take charge and reach net zero by 2050; that work on developing effective pathways to arrive at this goal is adopted sooner rather than later. There were views that the short-term measures stipulated in the Revised MARPOL Annex VI, adopted by MEPC 76, were by themselves inadequate to address the Paris Agreement temperature goals and that more efforts are needed to achieve this target.
In light of these developments, and to recognise the need for a revised IMO GHG strategy, a draft resolution on “zero emission shipping by 2050” was considered for adoption by MEPC 77.
Although there was broad support on the proposed resolution, there were calls instead for the development and consideration of more concrete proposals with a view to increasing efforts and ambition while undertaking revision of the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships. It was agreed that, a final draft of the Revised Strategy must be considered for adoption by MEPC 80 during Spring 2023.
International Maritime Research and Development Board
Proposals considered by MEPC 77 on this topic include the following:
The nature of discussion was similar to what was previously seen during MEPC 76. While the IMRB concept was supported by a number of delegations, there were concerns that the IMRB proposal did not adequately reflect the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR–RC). There were also concerns that the funds generated were focussed on R&D activity and as such it wasn't clear how this equitable transition to greener economies would be achieved globally. Among other issues, clarity around governance and management of the funds was sought.
In light of the variety of opinions expressed, MEPC 77 invited further proposals to address the questions raised during the meeting and deferred a more detailed consideration of issues to ISWG-GHG 12
Proposed revision of IMO Data Collection System
MEPC 77 deferred the following discussions to ISWG-GHG 12:
The following discussions are deferred to MEPC 78:
Action Plan to address marine plastic litter from ships (Agenda Item 8)
Recognising the harmful effects on marine life and biodiversity, human health as well as negative impacts on activities such as tourism, fisheries and shipping, the IMO adopted resolution MEPC.310(73) Action Plan to Address Marine Plastic Litter from Ships in October 2018.
Under this plan the IMO reviews and assesses the need for updating actions and/or incorporating new actions to the plan annually as well as a comprehensive review assessing the effectiveness of the actions within the plan after five years.
Discussions considered by MEPC 77 include the following:
Proposals which makes the marking of fishing gear with the ship’s IMO number mandatory by introducing amendments to MARPOL Annex V were considered. These include requirements for the effective reporting on Abandoned, Lost, Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) and the available technologies to mark fishing gear.
MEPC 77 heard divergent views from delegations, some who were in support of making the marking of fishing gear mandatory; with others expressing reservations on the technicalities and legalities of doing so since fishing gear in use was not classed as garbage and hence MARPOL Annex V was not the appropriate instrument to regulate this matter. That, voluntary IMO instruments such as guidelines could act as alternative vehicles to action this item. Other views include an appreciation of the role of national governments in dealing with this important matter.
Noting the need for further discussions and clarification on the issues raised, MEPC 77 instructed PPR 9 to consider this matter further.
Proposal for making Garbage Record Book mandatory for ships of 100 GT and over
A proposal to amend regulations 10.3 and 10.3.6 of MARPOL Annex V to include a requirement that all ships of 100 GT and over, instead of 400 GT and over, to carry a Garbage Record Book was heard by MEPC 77.
MEPC 77 noted views in support of the proposal as being a straightforward and relatively easy to implement measure with others seeking further clarification on the benefits and impact of this proposed amendment. Due to a variety of views expressed on this matter, this was deferred to PPR 9 for further consideration.
Outcome of the Working Group on Marine Plastic Litter
A paper discussing the economic, social and environmental impact of plastic pellets on marine pollution with reference to a recent case of MV X-Press Pearl was also forwarded to PPR 9 for further consideration.
MEPC.341(77) - Strategy to address marine plastic litter from ships
MEPC 77 after consideration from the working group, adopted the resolution of the Strategy to address marine plastic litter from ships.
MEPC 77 also considered the following actions on the virtual Working Group on Marine Plastic Litter and:
Pollution Prevention and Response (Agenda Item 9)
MEPC 77 considered the following topics under this agenda item:
Black Carbon (BC) emissions
MEPC.342(77) Resolution Protecting the Arctic from shipping black carbon emissions
It is claimed that certain blended low-sulphur fuels contain a large proportion of aromatic compounds - when compared to conventional heavy fuel oil (HFO) - that directly contribute to the production of BC emissions.
This has led to calls for prohibiting the use of such low sulphur HFO and any predominantly aromatic marine fuels, and a switchover to distillate fuels for ships operating in the Arctic.
There was significant debate during MEPC 77 over a proposed MEPC resolution supporting recommended interim BC emission reduction measures aimed at reducing BC emissions from international shipping.
Supporters of the proposal pointed out the voluntary nature of the resolution while stressing the need for an urgent move to cleaner fuels. Those against an immediate adoption suggested that the evidence backing the resolution was not robust enough, with further experimental data needed.
After extensive discussion and an editorial amendment to remove the reference to “low aromaticity” from the text, the resolution was adopted by MEPC 77.
Outcome of PPR 8
In addition to the above developments, MEPC 77:
Proposed amendments to MARPOL Annex II – GESAMP hazard evaluation procedure
To reflect changes to the GESAMP Hazard Profile table upon the finalisation of GESAMP Reports and Studies No.102 a proposal to amend MARPOL Annex II - Appendix I - Guidelines for the categorization of noxious liquid substances was approved by MEPC 77 and sent to MEPC 78 for adoption.
Review of integrated bilge water treatment system (IBTS) 2020 draft Guidelines and amendments to IOPP Certificate and Oil Record Book
MEPC 77 instructed PPR 9 to review the draft 2020 Guidelines for systems for handling oily wastes in machinery spaces of ships incorporating guidance notes for an integrated bilge water treatment system (2020 IBTS Guidelines) and the draft consequential amendments to MARPOL Annex I and report their findings back to MEPC.
Reports of other sub-committees (Agenda Item 10)
Report of SDC 7
Watertight doors on cargo ships MEPC 77 approved the following:
Report of III 7
MEPC 77 approved the following matters which have already been approved by MSC:
MEPC 77 authorised the following matter which has already been approved by MSC:
Work programme of the Committee and Subsidiary Bodies (Agenda Item 11)
MEPC 77 agreed on the following proposals under this agenda item:
MEPC 77 delegated the following work to the PPR sub-committee for further consideration:
Any other business (Agenda Item 14)
This agenda item was considered via correspondence ahead of MEPC 77. MEPC 77 took the following actions on these topics under this agenda item:
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