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Polar Code a step closer to 2017 entry into force

Polar Code a step closer to 2017 entry into force
The Polar Code could enter into force in 2017 after it gained approval at the recent 67th meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 67).

The IMO committee approved the environmental provisions in the draft International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters, known as the Polar Code, as well as the draft amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

The next step will see MEPC consider the code and the draft amendments for adoption at its 68th session in May 2015. If adopted at that meeting, the Polar Code and MARPOL amendments could enter into force on 1 January 2017.

An attempt to prevent pollution in the sensitive environments in the Arctic and Antarctic, the code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters for ships in both polar regions.

The Polar Code will be enforced through MARPOL, the draft amendments to which will allow the rules to come into force under MARPOL annexes I, II, IV and V.

For the antarctic, restriction on discharges already exist through its designation as a special area under MARPOL annexes I and V. With the adoption of the Polar Code, similar restrictions will be put in place for the arctic, covering pollution by oil, noxious liquid substances, sewage and garbage.

Earlier this year, the Polar Code cleared the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), along with an additional chapter for the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), covering safety measures for ships in polar waters.

In Denmark earlier this month, Russia warned that the potential advantages of passage via the Northern Sea Route (NSR) could be lost if countries add too-stringent requirements to the Polar Code. Russia is also looking to exempt domestic shipping from zero discharge rules under the Polar Code.