Environmental regulation update

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IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention and China’s Emission Control Areas Programme – beginning January 2016.

IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention 

In November 2015, at the IMO Biennial Assembly Meeting in London, Monaco, Indonesia, and Ghana became the most recent countries to ratify the IMO Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention. This brings the number of IMO Members that have ratified the Convention to 47 – well in excess of the 30 states required for the implementation of the Convention.

The final remaining criterion is the ratification by states representing 35% of the world’s merchant shipping tonnage. Prior to the Biennial Assembly Meeting, the Convention had been ratified by 44 states representing approximately 32.9% of the world’s tonnage.

According to Lloyd’s List Intelligence, the combined fleets of Indonesia and Ghana represent approximately 1.46% of the global fleet in terms of gross tonnage. Argentina, the Philippines, Belgium, and Finland have all confirmed that they are in the process of ratifying the Convention. Should one of these countries with a larger proportion of the world’s gross tonnage on its register complete the ratification process, it would seem likely that the criteria for enforcement of the Convention will have been met, leading to the Convention coming into force 12 months thereafter.

As at January 2015, the IMO has confirmed that the Convention will not enter into force on 24 November 2016 (as had been anticipated by some), given that the required tonnage requirements have still not been met. Whilst, as mentioned above, some 47 states have ratified the Convention, it is likely that the required 0.4% tonnage will be achieved over the next three months and, as such, the Convention will not enter into force until 2017.  

China’s Emission Control Areas Programme – beginning January 2016

On 1 January 2016, China began a five-stage scheme introducing Emission Control Areas (ECAs) requiring ships to switch to low-sulphur fuel within coastal and inland waters near the Pearl River Delta (excluding Hong Kong and Macao), Yangtze River Delta, and Bohai Rim Area.

Starting in 2016, 11 “Key Ports” in the identified ECAs have the option of requiring ships at berth to use fuel with less than 0.5% sulphur content. By 2017, this requirement will become mandatory, eventually expanding to non-Key Ports in the ECAs by 2018. The scheme aims to cover all ships (except for military vessels, sport ships and fishing boats) entering into the Chinese ECA waters from 2019 onwards.

Fionna Gavin

Fionna Gavin Partner

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