More indecision on BWMS installation timeframe

Taking on uncertainty: BWM Convention installation timeframe remains undecided Taking on uncertainty: BWM Convention installation timeframe remains undecided

The installation timeframe for the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention has been thrown back into uncertainty after fresh proposals at the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee last week.

At MEPC 69 earlier this year, the committee agreed to a draft resolution stating that most ships should install systems from the date of the first renewal survey for their International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) certificate after the convention’s entry into force, on 8 September 2017. At last week’s meeting, the committee – which had hoped to finalise the installation timeframe under Regulation B-3 of the convention - considered proposed alternatives dates.

The proposals considered included changing the implementation deadline to: The second IOPP renewal survey after entry into force; the first IOPP renewal survey after the IMO determines sufficient systems meeting newly finalised testing and certification guidelines (G8 guidelines) are available; or allowing vessels whose compliance dates fall within two years after entry into force to comply only after their second IOPP renewal survey.

The alternative dates – which could see ships only required to install ballast water management systems by October 2024 – were proposed as the MEPC finalised its review of G8 guidelines. They are intended to allow sufficient time for systems under the new guidelines to be developed, tested and made commercially available before most ships must have the equipment installed.

Liberia submitted one alternative proposal for the implementation timeframe, with another document submitted by a group including India, the International Chamber of Shipping and BIMCO.

David Pascoe, senior vice president, operations & standards at LISCR (the manager of the Liberian Registry), said: “There are two major constraints effecting smooth implementation and compliance with the convention – namely, lack of availability of systems that will meet the performance standards, and the evident lack of sufficient installation capacity.

“We are pleased that MEPC 70 adopted and advocates the early use of new guidelines for approval of BWM systems.  Concerns remain however, that it might be several years before new IMO-approved equipment is readily available and that tens of thousands of ships may be required to install existing systems that may not fully comply with the convention standards.”

MEPC will consider the dates, which relate to Regulation B-3 of the BWM Convention, at its next meeting in early 2017. It aims to decide on a pragmatic implementation schedule on the basis of IMO’s Assembly Resolution, which was the basis for the initial changes to Regulation B-3, before the circulation of amendments to this Regulation - which can only happen once the convention is in force.

In related news, the MEPC agreed that the G8 guidelines will be made codified and made mandatory after the convention enters force. The committee also asked the ballast water review group to begin work on guidance on contingency measures if BWM systems do not work properly, as well as formalising the process of data gathering and analysis in the ‘experience gathering phase’ that will follow entry into force.

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