MEPC 71: Limited Enforcement Expected for Sulfur Rules

The implementation of the 0.5 percent sulfur limit for fuel used by ships from 2020 may not be robustly enforced, it was pointed out in a paper submitted by China, India and Russia to the 71st session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 71). 

Some 96% of the world fleet has flags of states which are parties to MARPOL Annex VI, but 63 out of 153 countries with a sea coast are not, and hence are under no obligation to enforce the regulation, as explained by the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA).

The three countries proposed that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) should encourage IMO member states that are not parties to the Annex VI of MARPOL yet to expedite their work on accession.

“The co-sponsors think that only in this case the efficient implementation of MARPOL Annex VI requirements will be ensured by both flag states and port states,” the paper stated.

The paper proposed that the IMO should adopt an Assembly resolution urging member state governments to become signatories to Annex VI of MARPOL. At present, there are 88 parties to Annex VI.

While MEPC 71 had sympathy for the problem identified, it was reminded about the existing “Assembly resolution A.929(22) on Entry into force of Annex VI to MARPOL 73/78” adopted on November 29, 2001. MEPC 71 agreed to bring this resolution to the attention of Assembly and invite it to note that the issues it seeks to address remain valid, in particular the need for the provision of technical assistance to support member state accession, including preparation of national legislation, effective implementation and enforcement of the provisions of MARPOL Annex VI.

IBIA addressed plenary on the joint paper saying it was pointing out a “real concern” regarding the effective implementation of MARPOL Annex VI provisions.

The association suggested that the IMO should investigate what flag states can do to contribute to effective implementation of the 2020 requirements of Annex VI, and not focus only on effective port state control measures.

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