Fate of Ballast Water Convention to Be Decided at MEPC 71

IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee 71, due to gather in London in July, may well have the last chance to ensure that the long-delayed Ballast Water Convention is implemented when ships undergo their special surveys.

This would ultimately decide whether the Convention’s requirements are finally fulfilled across the many thousands of ships which require ballast water treatment system installations.

“It is a couple of minutes to midnight for this Convention,” Andrew Marshall, Coldharbour Chief Executive, said, adding that the outcome of this next MEPC meeting “will surely decide its fate.”

The Coldharbour CEO reports that some flag states are now actively marketing a decoupling of the special survey, the time when practically all ballast water treatment system retrofit installations will take place, from renewal of the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPPC).

This is the point in time that IMO set as the trigger for system installations because the IOPPC renewal normally takes place during a ship’s special survey. Decoupling of the two events “is a cynical means of enabling ship owners to buy more time,” Marshall believes, which flies in the face of the IMO’s intentions.

The Committee will discuss a two-year postponement of the Convention’s entry into force, which could prove helpful for the industry in several ways, Marshall said, however, he insists that any postponement must come as part of a package which sees shipboard treatment system installations timed to coincide with renewal of the IOPPC at the next special survey.

“If a two-year postponement is agreed at MEPC 71, and the decoupling process is not stopped, the IMO’s most-delayed Convention will have no impact on many ships for possibly another seven years from today,” Marshall informed.

“I urge delegates at MEPC 71 to take a strong line on these issues which will ultimately seal the fate of the Ballast Water Convention. As an industry, we must have an unambiguous timeline and a chance to see through the IMO’s best intentions to completion,” he concluded.

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