From 18-22 April the IMO gathered for the 69th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), the purpose of which is to consider any matter that relates to the prevention and control of the pollution caused by the worlds vessels, as well as to create and amend conventions, standards and measures to ensure the enforcement of marine protection.

The 69th session of the MEPC covered a variety of topics, of particular note to the superyacht industry is the implementation of systems on board vessels over 5000GT that record fuel consumption data, clarification of the status of the Ballast Water Convention and the designation – in principle – of the Tubbataha Reefs as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area.

While it is yet to be finalised, as early as 2018, the 27 superyachts in the global fleet that are over 5000GT may have to implement mandatory consumption data collection systems on board for each type of fuel they use. The anonymised data gathered from these vessels will be collected by the flag state at the end of each calendar year and passed over to the IMO for the data to be aggregated and analysed. The aim is to further understand and mitigate climate change.

“It has been very encouraging to see States which had previously found it difficult to reach binding agreements on climate change measures bring the spirit of the Paris Agreement to the IMO this week,” commented Kitack Lim, the IMO’s secretary general.

The MEPC noted that the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) is very close to reaching its entry into force criteria. With 49 nations, representing 34.79 per cent of the global fleet, already having signed up, there only remains a further 0.21 per cent required to meet the aforementioned criteria. The committee also granted final approval to three further ballast water management systems, the total number of type-approved systems is now 65.

The Tubbatah Reefs Natural Park

The Tubbatah Reefs Natural Park, Philippines, has received approval, in principle, to become a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA). In order protect this ecologically important UNESCO World Heritage site, the Filipino government has put forward a proposal for the area to become an “Area To Be Avoided,” this would mean that no vessel over 150GT would be permitted to travel in or through the Tubbatah Reefs. The PSSA may be formerly designated at the MEPC’s 71st session in spring 2017.

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