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ICS voices 'dismay' at US unilateral stance on ballast water

ICS voices 'dismay' at US unilateral stance on ballast water
ICS has expressed “dismay” at the United States’ decision to deny the IMO Ballast Water Management (BWM) convention legitimacy in its own waters.

Following the conclusion of the Meeting of the Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 68 last week, the ICS has assured its members that they will not be unduly penalised for installing first generation BWM systems on their vessels.

ICS also expressed confidence that the IMO’s type-approval process will be sufficiently toughened-up to ensure systems do not fall foul of Port State Control (PSC) inspections.

Secretary general Peter Hinchliffe, speaking from the AGM of the Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF) in Korea, said: “The roadmap agreed by IMO Member States shows that at last there is widespread recognition that it is unreasonable to expect shipowners to invest millions of dollars per ship without any certainty that the treatment equipment will not have to be completely replaced in a matter of years, and that ships will not face sanctions due to circumstances beyond their control.”

But an ICS statement indicated that the US’ decision to maintain what the body calls a “formal reservation”, forfeiting the legal effect of the IMO ruling, “partially undermined” the BWM Convention.

Hinchliffe said: “The problems created by the unilateral approach of the United States now require a separate pragmatic solution outside of IMO. The legal obstacles created by the timelines enshrined in the U.S law, and uncertainty as to when the IMO Convention will enter into force, make a solution extremely complex. But in co-operation with other shipowner organisations this will be a priority for ICS in the year ahead.”

Further, ICS criticised the EU’s decision to pre-empt IMO’s CO2 Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) legislation, on which IMO had made “good progress”. ICS said: “ICS fully supports [MRV] provided it is simple to administer and will not ultimately be used to develop a Market Based Measure or some other over complicated mechanism that could lead to serious market distortion.”

Hinchliffe commented: “There is still a great deal of uncertainty as to where the issue of CO2 data collection is leading. The European Commission still appears to see the next step as being to use this data to establish a mandatory operational indexing system that can eventually be used to charge ships money. The fact that commercially sensitive data about individual ships will not be published under the IMO system does not prevent this goal from being pursued. The same applies to the EU system, even if the European Commission agrees to align its system more closely with that eventually agreed by IMO by dropping the publication element, which is by no means certain”.

However, adoption of the IMO Polar Code was enthusiastically welcomed by ICS, Hinchliffe remarked. “The Polar Code demonstrates that IMO is the appropriate forum for developing standards for ships operating in the Arctic as it has the necessary legal and technical expertise to take full account of the interests of all maritime nations, including those with an Arctic coastline.” 

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