REMPEC workshop tackles latest developments to reduce air pollution from ships – Oct 26, 2010

The ratification and implementation of the new revised Annex VI – Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL [1]) was the subject of a regional workshop organized by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC [2]) .

Held on 26th and 27th October, 2010 in Athens, Greece, the workshop’s main objective was to raise awareness amongst senior government officials from Mediterranean coastal States about the new revised MARPOL Annex VI, which entered into force on 1 July 2010, and to assist with the preparatory work for the ratification and implementation of this Annex VI.

This Annex, adopted in 1997 and revised in 2008, limits the main air pollutants contained in ships exhaust gas, including sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances. The regulations in Annex VI have been in force since 2005 and any lack of certification or failure in demonstrating the necessary compliance with Annex VI can effectively impede a ship from international trade.

Held within the framework of the European Union (EU) funded MEDA Regional Project “Euromed Cooperation on Maritime Safety and Prevention of Pollution from Ships – SafeMed II” being implemented by REMPEC, this regional workshop also formed part of REMPEC’s activities included in UNEP/MAP’s 2010-2011 work programme as approved by the 16th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean Sea.

In her address, the Deputy Coordinator and Officer-in-Charge of UNEP/MAP, Ms Maria Luisa Silva Mejias, said: “Since 2006, SafeMed has greatly assisted the southern Mediterranean coastal states in building their capacities for the implementation of international maritime conventions and the Prevention and Emergency Protocol of the Barcelona Convention.

“There is no doubt that a follow up to the SafeMed II Project would be extremely beneficial to the Mediterranean region. It is thus hoped that the European Commission will again entrust REMPEC with the implementation of the third phase of the SafeMed Project,” she said.

Ms Mejias highlighted the fact that the regional framework, being built since 1976, will remain a valid forum for co-operation only if the Contracting Parties consistently renew their commitment to it. She also encouraged the ratification of the revised Protocols to the Convention and the 2002 Prevention and Emergency Protocol.

Participants hailed from 18 Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, namely Croatia, Cyprus, the European Commission, Greece, Malta, Slovenia, Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel,  Lebanon, Montenegro, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Together with Jordan, the last nine mentioned are also SafeMed II Project beneficiaries.

The participants were presented with some very interesting presentations on the implications that air pollution from ships is having on the environment and hence the reasons why air pollution from ships had to be regulated.

Besides the background to Annex VI, the IMO representative also familiarized the participants with the major changes that were made to this Annex VI, through the October 2008 Amendments. These included a progressive reduction in both the sulphur oxide (SOx) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from ships on a global basis, further reduction of sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions in the Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA) and new procedures on how to designate new Emission Control Areas (ECA) that cover SOx and particulate matter, or NOx, or all three types of emissions from ships.

Following the workshop, the participants whose Governments have not yet ratified this Annex, are now well informed about the compliance benefits and the procedures to be followed for the ratification of this Annex. On the other hand, participants coming from countries that have already ratified this Annex were informed of the correct and effective implementation procedures, including the correct Port State Control (PSC) procedures to be followed.

The EC representative informed the participants of the EU legislation and how MARPOL Annex VI fits in within the EU policy and legislation. Presentations were also made on the experiences gained by some of the Mediterranean coastal States that have ratified Annex VI and from the establishment of the North American Emission Control Area (ECA). Means how to reduce emissions from ships, namely through the use of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems, were also highlighted.

The workshop documents and the final report can be downloaded on this page of the SafeMed website.

More information on the SafeMed project: SafeMed website.

[1] As one of the most important international marine environmental conventions, MARPOL includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships - both accidental pollution and that from routine operations, and includes six technical Annexes.

[2] The Malta-based REMPEC is one of UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centres and assists Mediterranean coastal States to build up their national prevention and response capabilities to marine pollution from ships. The Centre also facilitates cooperation between countries in combating accidental marine pollution from a range of hazardous substances including oil. REMPEC is managed under the joint auspices of UNEP’s Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).