ICS Lobbies on BWT Issues on Eve of IMO Meeting

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

October 9, 2014

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and its member national shipowners’ associations are  engaged in a flurry of lobbying on the eve of a crucial meeting at the IMO next week that could effectively chart the course ahead on the Ballast Water Treatment System issue for maritime.

The global shipping industry, comprising about 70,000 ships, is expected to have to invest around $100 billion in new ballast water treatment systems once the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Ballast Water Management Convention enters into force, probably during 2016.  The industry fully supports the objectives of the IMO Convention and the standards that governments have set for killing unwanted marine micro-organisms that can be transported in ships’ ballast water. 

But shipping companies still lack confidence that the new equipment required will be regarded as fully compliant by governments, even though it has been typed-approved, unless serious implementation problems with the Convention are addressed at next week’s crucial meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). 

The issues that governments need to address include the lack of robustness of the current IMO type-approval process for the treatment equipment, the criteria to be used for sampling ballast water during Port State Control inspections, and the need for ‘grandfathering’ of type-approved equipment already or about to be fitted. 

In conjunction with a broad coalition of other industry associations, ICS has made a detailed submission to the MEPC explaining the industry’s concerns and a proposed way forward.  This takes the form of an MEPC Resolution which would serve as a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ by IMO Member States that necessary actions will be taken with respect to the Convention’s implementation as soon as it enters into force, and that shipowners who have installed new equipment, in good faith, and who operate and maintain it correctly, will not be unfairly penalized.                                                                                                    

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