IMO Closer to Polar Environmental Regulation
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Photo: Danish Maritime Authority

Last week, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed which ships are to be covered by the future environmental regulations for voyages in polar areas, The Danish Maritime Authority said.

The environmental regulations of the Polar Code

An international set of regulations on navigation in polar areas, referred to as the Polar Code, is still at the top of the IMO agenda. The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) intensively debated the environmental provisions in the Polar Code. The IMO decided, inter alia, that the environmental chapter of the Code is to apply to the same ships as the individual chapters of the MARPOL Convention. This means that the scope of application of the safety and environmental chapters of the Polar Code is not the same since the safety chapter applies to ships covered by the SOLAS Convention where the scope of application is somewhat narrower.

The goal is still to finalize the Polar Code as quickly as possible. Therefore, a working group meeting will quite extraordinarily be held during the week up to the next session of the MEPC in October this year in order to solve any outstanding issues. Now, it is expected that the Polar Code can be approved by the MEPC in the spring of 2015. Denmark will continue to contribute actively to the finalization of the Polar Code.

Stricter requirements for NOx emissions
The MEPC also agreed on the entry into force date of new, stricter requirements for ships’ NOx emissions in emission control areas (NECAs).

Other issues of special interest at the meeting were the following:
• Monitoring and reporting of ships’ energy efficiency
• The energy efficiency design index
• Ballast water management
• Marine fuel with an 0.5 percent sulphur content
• Incinerators
• Amendments to the MARPOL Convention

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