The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) – in cooperation with coalition of international shipping organizations – has submitted an important paper to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that proposes a means of overcoming the serious implementation problems associated with the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention.
The industry paper, which has been submitted to the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) which meets in London in October 2014, suggests solutions to these problems in the form of a draft MEPC Resolution that could be adopted by IMO Member States before the BWM Convention enters into force.
The paper was agreed in principle by ICS’s member national shipowner associations at their recent AGM in Cyprus where they considered the deep flaws in the Convention (adopted in 2004 when the technology required to comply had not been widely tested or proven commercially) and possible solutions to these issues.
ICS members concluded that there is now a greater understanding of these problems amongst IMO Member States which for many seems to be the primary issue impeding ratification. These obstacles include the lack of robustness of the current type-approval process for the very expensive new treatment systems that will be required, doubts about the procedures to be followed during Port State Control, and the need to provide confidence to shipowners that have already installed the new equipment (or are about to do so) that they will be regarded by the authorities as compliant, ICS said.
ICS said it supports the objectives of the Convention and recognizes that its eventual entry into force is inevitable. However, ICS fears that unless these problems are resolved immediately at IMO there is a considerable risk that the regime will not be fit for purpose. ICS is particularly concerned that port state sanctions could impact unfairly on shipowners who, in good faith, have fitted type-approved equipment, only to be told subsequently that it falls short of the required standard.
ICS has stressed that at the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting in October 2014, governments will need to take what may be the final opportunity to act by agreeing some relatively simple changes to how the Convention will be implemented.