IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee held its 80th session (MEPC 80) from 3 – 7 July 2023.  There were a variety of important developments at MEPC 80, including, but not limited to:

Ballast Water Management

  • Recordkeeping and Reporting:
    • Amendments to the BWM Convention Appendix II, form of the Ballast Water Record Book, were adopted and will enter into force on 1 February 2025.
    • The Guidance on record-keeping and reporting was approved by the Committee and will be circulated as BWM.2/Circ.80.
    • Amendments to Guidelines (G4) (Ballast Water Management Plans) and (G6) (Ballast Water Exchange) related to the above record-keeping developments were adopted by the Committee.
    • Draft amendments to BWM Convention Regulations A-1 and B-2 for use of electronic record books were approved by the Committee, with a view to adoption at MEPC 81.
  • The Committee approved the unified interpretation to the form of the International Ballast Water Management Certificate, which will be published as BWM.2/Circ.66/Rev.5.
  • The Convention Review Plan under the experience-building phase associated with the BWM Convention was approved and will be disseminated as BWM.2/Circ.79.  The Correspondence Group was re-established to continue work intersessionally toward developing a package of amendments to the BWM Convention and submit a report to MEPC 81.
  • The Protocol for verification of ballast water Compliance Monitoring Devices (CMDs) was approved by the Committee and will be published as BWM.2/Circ.78.
  • The guidance for ships operating in challenging water quality was not finalized at this session.  Due to the urgent need for this guidance, as requested by the shipping industry, as well as the number of MEPC sessions that the topic has been considered, the lack of completing this guidance at MEPC 80 may result in individual Member States developing independent regulations / guidance.  However, to support uniform implementation of BW regulations, several delegations agreed to work intersessionally with a goal of reaching consensus on the guidance at MEPC 81.
  • The proposed draft Guidance on the temporary storage of treated sewage or grey water was not finalized; the Committee invited interested delegations to work intersessionally and submit further proposals to MEPC 81.
  • To support the goals of the experience-building phase, the Committee encouraged Member States to conduct more sampling and analysis during port State control inspections to gain more knowledge on operation of BWMS.
  • Training for seafarers related to the BWM Convention will be included in the output on the Comprehensive review of the 1978 STCW Convention and Code.

Marine Plastic Litter

  • Development of a draft circular regarding the carriage of plastic pellets is to be finalized at PPR 11, with a view to approval at MEPC 81.

Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency

  • The 2023 IMO Strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships was finalized and adopted by the Committee.
  • The Committee approved the review plan for the review of the short-term GHG reduction measure.
  • The Committee adopted the resolution on Guidelines on lifecycle GHG intensity of marine fuels (LCA Guidelines).  The Correspondence Group was established and intersessional work on the LCA framework is anticipated to take place with a report submitted to MEPC 81.
  • A resolution to adopt amendments to the 2022 Guidelines on the method of calculation of the attained Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships relating to clarifications of definitions was approved by the Committee.
  • The Committee approved the Interim guidance on the use of biofuels under Regulations 26, 27 and 28 of MARPOL Annex VI.
  • For low flash-point fuels and other fuel oil issues, the Committee approved the draft amendments to Regulations 2, 14, 18 and Appendix I of MARPOL Annex VI, with a view to adoption at MEPC 81.
  • An amendment to the EGCS Electronic Record Book within the 2021 Guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems was approved by the Committee.

Biofouling Management

  • The 2023 Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ship’s Biofouling were approved.
  • The target date for completion of the Development of guidance on matters relating to in-water cleaning was set to 2025.

Designation of the North-Western Mediterranean Sea as a PSSA

  • The Committee noted the outcomes of NCSR 10 and MSC 107 regarding the need to protect cetaceans from impacts of shipping in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea.  Based on those developments, the Committee agreed to establish the Technical Group on Designation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs) and Special Areas and instructed it to prepare an MEPC resolution to designate the North-Western Mediterranean Sea as a PSSA. The effective date of the PSSA will be 1 January 2025.
  • The Committee agreed to preparation of an MEPC resolution to bring the special area discharge requirements for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (RSGA) areas into effect under MARPOL Annexes I (regulations 15.3, 15.5, and 34.3 to 34.5) and V (regulation 6).  The effective date of the special area discharge requirements will be 1 January 2025.

NOx Technical Code

  • The Committee assigned the PPR Subcommittee the following tasks:
    • Update the 2017 SCR Guidelines to include additional certification guidance with when more than one engine is connected to a common SCR system; and
    • Amend the NOx Technical Code 2008 procedure for re-certification of existing diesel engines for retrofitting with modern engine technologies to improve energy efficiency and maintain regulated NOx emission levels.

MARPOL Annex VI Development

  • An expansion of the scope of output 1.26, Revision of MARPOL Annex VI and associated guidelines was endorsed by the Committee.  This scope expansion will introduce provisions for a sewage management plan and record-keeping on all ships, not just ships with a sewage treatment plant (STP).
  • Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM)
    • The Committee approved the 2023 Guidelines for the development of Inventory of Hazardous Materials.
  • Hong Kong Convention
    • Liberia and Bangladesh acceded to the Hong Kong Convention, which will enter into force on 26 June 2025.

The report of MEPC 80 will be available on IMO DOCS when finalized. MEPC 81 is tentatively scheduled for 18 – 22 March 2024.