ICS Dismayed by US Stance on Ballast Water Regime

ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) voiced its fears that the unilateral stance taken at last week’s IMO MEPC meeting by the United States regarding the progress on ballast water implementation problems may actually have the opposite effect.

ICS believes that shipowners can now have increased confidence that, when the Convention enters into force, ships which have installed ‘first generation’ equipment in accordance with existing IMO approval Guidelines will not be unfairly penalised. ICS said it was also increasingly confident that the future IMO type-approval process, for the expensive new treatment systems required, will be more robust as a result of the new IMO Guidelines which are now being developed.

 “The roadmap agreed by IMO Member States shows that at last there is widespread recognition that it is unreasonable to expect shipowners to invest millions of dollars per ship without any certainty that the treatment equipment will not have to be completely replaced in a matter of years, and that ships will not face sanctions due to circumstances beyond their control,ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe commented.

“However, ICS fears that the potential impact of the progress made by IMO was partially undermined by the United States placing a formal reservation on the outcome. ICS, supported by other industry associations, therefore made a strong statement at the close of the MEPC, voicing ‘dismay’ at the United States unilateral stance,”Hinchliffe added.

In spite of the progress made by IMO last week, ICS suspects the problems that exist with respect to the separate U.S. approval regime still make it unlikely that flag states which have not yet ratified the IMO Convention will wish to do so in the immediate future given that shipowners under their flags, which trade to the United States, could still be unfairly penalised.

According to Hinchliffe, the legal obstacles created by the timelines enshrined in the US law, and uncertainty as to when the IMO Convention will enter into force, make a solution extremely complex.

With respect to CO2 data collection system, ICS said that the IMO MEPC made good progress on draft text that will mandate a global data collection system on CO2 emissions from shipping.

ICS was pleased that IMO Member States rejected the idea (contained in the unilateral EU Regulation on the reporting of ships’ CO2 emissions adopted by the European Parliament in April) that commercially sensitive data about individual ships should be published.

“There is still a great deal of uncertainty as to where the issue of CO2 data collection is leading. The European Commission still appears to see the next step as being to use this data to establish a mandatory operational indexing system that can eventually be used to charge ships money. The fact that commercially sensitive data about individual ships will not be published under the IMO system does not prevent this goal from being pursued. The same applies to the EU system, even if the European Commission agrees to align its system more closely with that eventually agreed by IMO by dropping the publication element, which is by no means certain,” Hinchliffe added.

 

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