The International Chamber of Shipping has reiterated its call for governments to address the serious implementation issues concerning the IMO Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention before it is too late.
Speaking at a Ballast Water Management Summit in Singapore, ICS Vice Chairman, Esben Poulsson, encouraged IMO Member States to make use of the solutions proposed in an industry submission to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), which next meets from 13 to 17 October.
Mr Poulsson explained that the issues governments need to address include the lack of robustness of the current IMO type-approval process for the expensive new treatment equipment, the criteria to be used for sampling ballast water during Port State Control inspections and the need for “grandfathering” of already fitted type-approved equipment. Thus far, however, governments have appeared reluctant to act collectively in a decisive manner.
During his keynote speech, Mr Poulsson explained that this reluctance to resolve outstanding problems is causing a great deal of uncertainty: “When the BWM Convention eventually enters into force, the shipping industry will be required to invest billions of dollars to ensure compliance. However, because of the unanswered questions about the detailed implementation of the Convention, much of the industry – and society at large – continues to lack confidence that the new treatment equipment will actually work, or that it will be found to comply with the standards that governments have set for killing unwanted marine micro-organisms.”
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.
However, ICS believes that the legal changes needed to make the ballast regime fit for purpose – such as making IMO Guidelines on type-approval mandatory – are relatively straightforward and could still be agreed in principle by governments quickly. In conjunction with a broad coalition of other industry associations, ICS has therefore made a detailed submission to the next MEPC meeting in October, reiterating the industrys concerns and the proposed way forward.
“The latest industry paper suggests solutions to these complex problems in the form of a draft MEPC Resolution that could be adopted by IMO Member States before the BWM Convention enters into force,” Mr Poulsson explained. “There is now a huge amount of lobbying taking place between industry associations and governments, but it remains to be seen if the industry will be successful in making governments see common sense.”