ICS urges 'harmonized' inspections in sulfur ECAs

The following is the text of a news release from the International Chamber of Shipping:

(LONDON) — The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is encouraging the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control to ensure that a harmonized approach to PSC inspections has been developed in advance of the Jan. 1, 2015 deadline with respect to the implementation of the 0.1 percent sulfur Emission Control Areas (ECAs), established in accordance with MARPOL Annex VI.
ICS has underlined the shipping industry’s commitment to full compliance with the IMO sulfur ECA requirements from January 2015. However, ICS is concerned that information collected by its member national shipowners’ associations suggests that many governments are not yet prepared to implement the requirements in a uniform manner, in order to ensure the prevention of a potentially serious market distortion.
ICS Secretary General Peter Hinchliffe explained: “The shipping industry is investing billions of dollars in order to ensure compliance with this major regulatory change, and the huge costs involved could have a profound impact on the future structure of the entire shipping industry. We therefore think it is vital that governments get the details of any PSC intervention right as we enter a new world in which fuel costs for many ships will increase overnight by 50 percent or more.”
He added: “There is only six months to go and it is vital that the Paris MOU and its member states — in coordination, as may be appropriate, with the United States and the European Commission — clarify all of the details of ECA implementation with respect to PSC inspection as soon as possible. ICS believes it is important for the maintenance of fair competition that implementation occurs throughout the Paris MOU region in a consistent and harmonized manner.”
ICS has just written to the Paris MOU in order to draw attention to the global shipping industry’s serious concern with respect to the sulfur ECA implementation. With the exception of the United States, all of those coastal nations that are located within the IMO sulfur ECAs (in North America, the North Sea and the Baltic) are party to the Paris MOU.
ICS has raised a number of PSC inspection issues with respect to MARPOL Annex VI on which ICS believes it is vital that a harmonized approach is developed and agreed by the Paris MOU in advance of the implementation date. These issues include:

• Whether — as ICS believes should be the case — the principal method of inspection will only involve looking at the bunker delivery note (BDN), with further sampling/analysis of fuel only normally taking place when examination of the BDN suggests clear grounds to suspect noncompliance, or when there is a previous history of non-compliance with MARPOL Annex VI;
• The procedures to be followed, with reference to applicable IMO guidelines, in the event that sampling or analysis is undertaken during PSC inspections;
• The procedures that might be followed with respect to ships that transit an ECA without calling at a port state located within an ECA;
• The extent to which a consistent approach will be shown with respect to any discretion for minor technical violations (e.g. those that might arise from fuel switching when a vessel enters an ECA) as opposed to deliberate use of the wrong grade of fuel, or with respect to any discretion that might be applied for a limited period after January 2015;
• And the criteria to be applied during PSC inspections with respect to alternative compliance measures such as exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers) or LNG.
Issues with respect to scrubbers that ICS believes require a harmonized approach include the acceptability of "closed loop" and "open loop" systems, and the extent to which overboard discharges will be subject to inspection by reference to the relevant IMO guidelines.

It is hoped that the Paris MOU will give serious consideration to the issues raised by ICS at the next meeting of its Management Advisory Board, in order to provide clarity.

By Professional Mariner Staff