MEPC 71: Concern about number of states that cannot enforce sulphur limits

Some 96% of the world fleet is flagged under states which are parties to MARPOL Annex VI, but 63 out of 153 countries with a sea coast are not, and hence are under no obligation to enforce the regulation.

This raises concern that the implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit for fuel used by ships from 2020 may not be robustly enforced. The problem was pointed out to the 71st session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee in a paper submitted by China, India and Russia.

They proposed that the International Maritime Organization should therefore encourage IMO Member States that are not yet Parties to the Annex VI of MARPOL to expedite their work on accession. “The co-sponsors think that only in this case the efficient implementation of MARPOL Annex VI requirements will be ensured by both flag States and port States,” their paper stated.

The paper proposed that the IMO should adopt an Assembly resolution urging member state governments to become signatories to Annex VI of MARPOL. At present, there are 88 parties to Annex VI.

While MEPC 71 had sympathy for the problem identified, it was reminded about the existing “Assembly resolution A.929(22) on Entry into force of Annex VI to MARPOL 73/78” adopted on 29 November 2001. MEPC 71 agreed to bring this resolution to the attention of Assembly and invite it to note that the issues it seeks to address remain valid, in particular the need for the provision of technical assistance to support Member State accession, including preparation of national legislation, effective implementation and enforcement of the provisions of MARPOL Annex VI.

IBIA addressed plenary on the joint paper from China et al. saying it was pointing out a very real concern regarding the effective implementation of MARPOL Annex VI provisions. Noting that over 96% of the world’s gross tonnage is flagged in MARPOL Annex VI Parties, but 63 out of 153 countries with a sea coast are not bound to comply with MARPOL Annex VI requirements, IBIA suggested that perhaps IMO should investigate what flag states can do to contribute to effective implementation of the 2020 requirements of Annex VI, and not focus only on effective port state control measures.

Member state flags adorn IMO’s HQ in London (Photo: IMO)

Report by Unni Einemo:

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