Sunday, November 20, 2011

Piracy Of and Pollution From World Shipping Under Review

IMO Meet in London for Biennial Assembly
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – Tomorrow (21st November 2011) the 27th Assembly of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will meet in London in a session scheduled to last until the 30th November. All 170 Member States and three Associate Members are entitled to attend the Assembly, which is IMO’s highest governing body. The intergovernmental organizations with which agreements of co-operation have been concluded and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO are also invited to attend. Two of the main subjects under discussion will be the recent IMO-commissioned study into the impact of mandatory energy efficiency measures for international shipping and the current marine migraine of piracy.

The Assembly will review the work carried out by the Organization during the biennium 2010‑2011, through the Council, the five IMO Committees and the Secretariat at an event which normally meets once every two years in regular session. It is responsible for approving the work programme, voting the budget and determining the financial arrangements of the Organization. It also elects the Organization’s 40-Member Council.

The review will focus on recent highlights over the past two years such as the improvements to watch keeping at sea (the STCW Convention) and the adoption, in April 2010, of the 2010 Protocol to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996 (HNS Convention). New, stricter, safety standards for lifeboat release and retrieval systems, aimed at preventing accidents during lifeboat launching have been introduced and the development of a mandatory Polar Code, for ships operating in ice-covered waters, was commenced, and a Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes was passed.

Together with ongoing discussions on piracy, the biennium saw the entry into force, on 28th July 2010, of the 2005 Protocols to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and to the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, respectively, whilst possibly the most newsworthy item is the breakthrough adoption, in July 2011, of amendments to the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), Annex VI Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships, to add a new chapter on Regulations on energy efficiency for ships, representing the first-ever mandatory greenhouse gas reduction regime for an international industry sector. The regulations will apply to all ships of 400 gross tonnage and above and are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013.

Pollution, and the potential to prevent or reduce it, is present in many aspects of the IMO’s aims, and goal based ship construction standards for bulk carriers and oil tankers have already been adopted whilst the new study focusing on mandatory measures indicated that implementation of the measures proposed will lead to significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from ships, specifically reductions of carbon dioxide, resulting from enhanced fuel efficiency.

The study, undertaken by Lloyd’s Register in partnership with Det Norske Veritas (DNV) found that, by 2020, an average of 151.5 million tonnes of annual CO2 reductions are estimated from the introduction of the measures, a figure that by 2030, will increase to an average of 330 million tonnes annually. CO2 reduction measures will result in a significant reduction in fuel consumption, leading to a significant saving in fuel costs to the shipping industry. The study, ‘Assessment of IMO mandated energy efficiency measures for international shipping’, was launched on the 14th November ahead of the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Durban, South Africa, from 28th November to 9th December 2011.

The new regulations also make mandatory a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships. This is a plan which sets out, for an individual ship, how energy savings can be made. There are a variety of options to improve efficiency – speed optimization, weather routeing and hull maintenance, for example – and the best package of measures for a ship to improve efficiency differs to a great extent depending upon ship type, cargo, route and other factors. The new regulations make such a ship-specific plan mandatory thereby encouraging the shipping industry to review its practices in a systematic way to find the best balance.

This new chapter makes mandatory the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), for new ships, which, in essence, requires new ships to be designed to be more energy efficient (and thereby release less greenhouse gases). The regulations are non-prescriptive: as long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained, ship designers and builders are free to use the most cost-efficient solution or solutions for each particular ship.

Piracy of course is, as ever these days, in the forefront of people’s minds and will of course continue to be discussed as the world’s freight, fishing and passenger fleets seek ways to protect themselves from some terrible crimes whilst awaiting a political solution which may never arrive.

On the evening of the opening day of the Assembly tomorrow, the 2011 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea will be presented to Captain Seog Hae-gyun of the Republic of Korea, Master of the chemical tanker Samho Jewelry. Captain Seog was nominated by the Government of the Republic of Korea for his heroic actions to keep his vessel and crew safe, while suffering vicious assaults, following a hijack by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

Certificates of Commendation will also be presented to a number of other nominees and special certificates will be presented to the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centres of Falmouth (United Kingdom) and Stavanger (Norway).