The IMO has agreed to update the MARPOL Annex VI module in its global shipping information system (GISIS) in a bid to improve the ability to accurately collect and analyse data concerning fuel oil quality and non-availability of compliant fuel oils.
It follows discussions at the 74th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 74), building on discussions at MEPC 73 last year when a proposal for a so-called experience building phase for fuels complying with the 0.50% sulphur limit was rejected. At MEPC 73, new proposals were invited to the next session on how enhance the implementation of Regulation 18 of MARPOL Annex VI, in particular to report issues around fuel oil quality and non-availability via GISIS.
MEPC 74 had for its consideration detailed proposals on data collection and analysis that may be achieved through enhancements to the GISIS database. The result was to instructed the IMO Secretariat to review and improve functionalities in the current MARPOL Annex VI module in GISIS including on Regulation 18.1: fuel oil availability; Regulation 18.2.5: evidence of non-availability of compliant fuel oil; and Regulation 18.9.6: failure of fuel oil suppliers to meet the requirements specified in regulation 14 or 18 of Annex VI.
MEPC 74 also established a Correspondence Group, to be coordinated by the Secretariat, to investigate the reporting of additional items on GISIS; and further usability improvements, if feasible and as appropriate. This should report back to MEPC 75.
The IMO Secretariat was also instructed by MEPC 74 to report to MEPC 75 a preliminary overview of data on fuel oil quality and availability currently available in GISIS as well as an overview of the current use of GISIS with reference to obligations under regulation 14 and 18.
During discussions of these enhancements, comments were made regarding the current lack of data submitted to GISIS.
This observation was also made by IBIA following MEPC 73, and at the 100th session to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee, where IBIA made a statement that efforts are also needed to verify the information submitted as there are many examples of unclear and questionable information provided by Member States to the GISIS modules.
MEPC 74 approved a draft MEPC circular on reporting of data related to fuel oil availability and safety in GISIS to promote greater understanding of the 0.50 % m/m sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI.
There has certainly been a lack of data provided to the MARPOL Annex VI module GISIS module so far, although providing such data is an obligation on the Parties to MARPOL Annex VI. The IMO Secretariat can improve the reporting format, but for this exercise to be truly useful the Parties to MARPOL Annex VI need to submit regular and accurate data.