Key Ballast Water Management Takeaways from MEPC 78
There was a lot going on in the maritime industry last week as a larger than expected crowd networked at exhibition stands, participated in workshops and enjoyed a number of sporting events at Posidona 2022. Concurrently, the 78th Session of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 78) was meeting virtually from, 6 – 10 June 2022.
The main focus of MEPC 78 was on Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and undertaking the challenges linked to climate change. However, there were several important issues related directly to ballast water management that were brought before the Committee this year.
With the deadline of the Experience-building phase (EBP) nearing, there was an urgent need for discussion on its extension due to the lack of data collection by vessels. According to the IMO, there are only 15,000 ships worldwide that they have submitted information regarding their experience using their installed ballast water management systems (BWMSs) during ballasting operations.
The Committee decided to form a Correspondence Group, with the task of writing a Convention Review Plan (CRP) to be presented at the next meeting. The CRP will do a BWM Convention review as well as update the timeline for completion of the EBP. Concurrently, it is expected that in addition to the report submitted to the Committee at MEPC 78, the World Maritime University and Global TestNet will continue in their efforts to gather information for MEPC 79. During the review process, ships will continue to operation under the guidelines of the EBP and should not be penalized for any violation concerning ballast water management operations. It is important to note, that this is not the case in the United States and shipowners should adhere to the regulations according to USCG guidelines in order to avoid fines, penalties or delays at port.
Another important topic concerned the proposals submitted by INTERTANKO (MEPC 78/INF.17) to the Committee related to the application of the BWM Convention regarding ships operating in ports with challenging water quality (PCWQ). The Ballast Water Equipment Manufacturers Association (BEMA) also submitted a Position Paper on this topic. During the meeting, the Committee questioned the definition of challenging water quality and had concerns about the intended locations of ballast water exchange. At this time, an agreement could not be reached on whether the PCWQ proposal should be adopted for use as a contingency measure. The Committee agreed to invite additional submissions and to further discuss this issue at MEPC 79,
In regard to using ballast tanks for the temporary storage of treated sewage and grey water, the Committee requested additional information on how the Guidelines would work under the BWM Convention for further discussion at MEPC 79.
Lastly, the Committee was asked to review issues associated with clarification of entries in the Ballast Water Record Books (BWRB) that were initially submitted at MEPC 76 (MEPC 76/4/2 and MEPC 76/INF.20) in 2021. At the MEPC 78 meeting, the Committee decided to revise Appendix II of the BWM Convention for, modifying the Form, for review at MEPC 79.
MEPC 78 has not yet release their official record of the meeting, go to the preview to the media of all the information that was submitted for discussion.
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