The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) held its Annual General Meeting in Port Douglas, Queensland, considered pressing international shipping issues
At the ICS AGM, national shipowners’ associations from Europe, Asia and the Americas, representing all sectors and trades and 80% of the world merchant fleet, considered pressing international issues of concern to global ship operators. Matters discussed included the continuing piracy crisis in the Indian Ocean and the challenge of further reducing ships’ CO2 emissions. Another pressing concern discussed by ICS members was the serious problems for shipowners created by the delayed entry into force of the IMO Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention.
Railing against what he described as 'Ballast Water Chaos' the newly elected ICS Chairman Mr Masamichi Morooka (Japan) commented:
“ICS members identified genuine concerns about the availability of suitable ballast water treatment equipment, the robustness of the type approval process, and the huge expense of retrofitting existing ships.”
Because of major changes proposed at IMO to important draft guidelines on ballast water sampling and analysis that will be used by port state control inspectors, the BWM Convention has still not entered into force, although it may do so within the next 12-18 months. This further delay creates other problems for shipowners due to the fixed dates by which existing ships have to install the very expensive new treatment equipment as required by the Convention’s time line.
“A very large number of ships will need to be retrofitted, a process that cannot begin properly until the various IMO Guidelines have been finalised. ICS has concluded that the issue of fixed dates needs to be addressed urgently, and that a serious discussion is needed at IMO before the Convention enters into force.” said Mr Morooka.
The ICS AGM discussed the United States Coast Guard’s Final Rulemaking on ballast water treatment (published in April) which creates serious questions as to whether the US standards for type approval of equipment and ballast water sampling, that will be used to inspect ships trading to the US, will be consistent with those expected to adopted by IMO in 2013.
For the sake of global unformity, ICS members decided to request that IMO considers alligning its own draft guidelines with those of the US. The relevant ICS Committees have been asked to prepare a detailed submision to the next meeting of the IMO Marine Envrioment Protection Committee (MEPC) in October 2012.
“It is vital that we avoid the potential for chaos when the Ballast Water Management Convention enters into force.” said Mr Morooka.