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MEPC opens with references to Ecuador, Med migration and the environment

The 69th session of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) opened yesterday in London, with IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim extending condolences to Ecuador over the devastation caused there by earthquakes this week.

Lim also included an opening reference to “unsafe and mixed migration at sea” as one of the safety challenges facing the Organization, amid unconfirmed reports that several hundred migrants have perished in the Mediterranean during recent days in one or more incidents of vessels capsizing.  

Otherwise this week’s MEPC meeting, running from April 18 – 22, will largely focus on “ever-more complex environmental challenges,” the IMO secretary-general said, “such as further work to address greenhouse gases from international shipping in light of the Paris Agreement; the sulphur regulation in 2020 which [the MEPC] are currently reviewing, and the implementation of the Ballast Water Management (BWM) and Hong Kong [ship recycling) Conventions.”

The gravity of these environmental issues is such that the International Chamber of Shipping and Bimco have both already referred to this MEPC meeting as “critical”.  

Also, the President of Indonesia Joko Widodo is due to address delegates today as he is currently on a state visit to London. As a member of the IMO Council and an island nation with just over 1% of the world’s merchant shipping tonnage, Indonesia has keen interest in maritime trade, the IMO points out.

Fellow Southeast Asian nation the Philippines will also feature prominently at MEPC this week, putting forward a proposal to designate the marine area known as the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, located between the islands of the Philippines and North Borneo, as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA).

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