Round Table Associations Encourage Action on IMO Issues

Thursday, June 07, 2007
The Chairmen of the Round Table (RT) of international shipping associations (BIMCO, ICS/ISF, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO) reviewed a number of current international issues at their recent meeting in London and stress the urgency of moving forward promptly with these. While acknowledging the need for more stringent air pollution standards, and welcoming the IMO Secretary General's proposal for a scientific group to review relevant data and report before year-end, the RT Chairmen highlight the crucial importance of amendments to MARPOL Annex VI being adopted by the IMO in early 2008, to prevent unilateral or regional regulation on the issue. The Chairmen also stress the importance of the IMO maintaining its leading role in developing measures to address the shipping industry’s contribution to global warming and reduction in the generation of greenhouse gases (both CO2 and NOx), notwithstanding its already impressive level of performance with regard to carbon emissions in comparison with other transport modes.

The Round Table continues to support the prompt ratification of the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention. At the same time the Round Table emphasizes its hope that the IMO will find a solution to the impossible problem confronting ship owners placing orders for new tonnage, and will suspend the requirement for ships delivered in 2009 to be fitted with special treatment equipment as required by the Convention - there is still no technology that is officially proven to comply with the IMO standards, and the Convention has not yet entered into force. The Chairmen note industry concern that ship owners are being discouraged from the installation and testing of prototype installations because they are not being guaranteed grandfathering protection. The Chairmen additionally express their concerns that the U.S. is advancing requirements that are stricter than those of the IMO Convention.

The RT Chairmen believe that it is important for the IMO to achieve a quick agreement on the Recycling Convention. However they also stress that the industry should continue its work on bringing about voluntary interim measures (based on the principal elements of the Convention) pending the entry into force of the Convention – which is unlikely to be before 2012. The Round Table repeats its support for the IMO’s voluntary Member State Audit Scheme and calls on ALL maritime administrations to undertake the audit and provide the IMO with the necessary resources to ensure the timely conduct of audits for all those states wishing to put themselves forward.

The Round Table associations also express their dismay at the lamentably slow ratification by national governments of key IMO Conventions, including MARPOL Annex VI (existing version), Anti-fouling Convention, Ballast Water Convention, LLMC Protocol, and the HNS and Bunker Spill Liability Conventions, and call upon governments to recognise their obligations to ensure a global regulatory framework for a global industry. The RT Chairmen support BIMCO’s initiative promoting the concept of a “Quality Coastal State” which encompasses a number of identifiable criteria for performance measurements for coastal and port states. The project has been discussed with a number of international organisations, including the EU and IMO Secretary General. The RT members have offered their assistance in future project work, including information gathering.

The RT Chairmen welcome the recently announced plans of the Asian Shipowners' Forum (ASF) to establish a permanent secretariat in Singapore, and the intention of Asian shipping interests to be more involved in the international arena. They look forward to extending the close co-operation already enjoyed between the Round Table and the ASF and its members.

The RT Chairmen note the positive development of the continuing Tripartite dialogue between shipbuilders, classification societies and shipowners as a demonstration of the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement and its ability to develop self-regulation measures as well as to help develop practical implementation of regulatory proposals. The next Tripartite meeting is scheduled for 20-21 September in Tokyo.

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