The maritime industry needs global regulations for a global industry, which makes the International Maritime Organization, or IMO, the right organization for this task, BIMCO’s chief shipping analyst Peter Sand told S&P Global Platts Monday.
The industry does not need more regional or national legislation, added Sand.
Just seven months following the enforcement of IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention, some port-states, particularly the US, have come up with more onerous standards than the IMO’s, an observation that has not gone unnoticed by the shipping industry.
“We see the IMO as the right body for global regulations, but we have seen the US running a different show,” Sand said.
BIMCO is the world’s largest international shipping association, with around 2,000 members in more than 120 countries. Its members include shipowners, operators, managers, brokers and agents.
All ships calling at US ports and intending to discharge ballast water must have US type approved ballast water management systems to either carry out ballast water exchange or treatment, in addition to fouling and sediment management.
While there are about 70-80 IMO-approved Ballast Water Management systems, only six BWM systems have received US Coast Guard approval.
“There are no plans to change our requirements or implementation dates due to changes to the IMO Convention. USGC Regulations are not the same as the IMO Implementation,” the US Coast Guard said in October.
The US is not party to the IMO Convention.
“Even with six systems out there, you still have to find out whether they can be installed on dirty tankers, chemical tankers, and then you have to work out if there is space on the tanker for the retrofit,” Intertanko’s environment director and regional manager for Asia Pacific Tim Wilkins said.
Intertanko or the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners is a group of independent owners and operators of oil, chemical and gas tankers.
To compound matters, the six US Coast Guard approved BWM system manufacturers cannot keep up with demand to manufacture and install them fast enough for shipowners.
Although the situation may improve with four other manufacturers having applied for US Coast Guard approval, Wilkins said.
In the meantime, the US Coast Guard will look at ships with broken Ballast Water Management systems on a case-by-case basis, but it is not an ideal situation, he said.
“The captain of the port state in the US might say you can partially discharge some ballast water and that will get you through the regulatory requirement, or go out 200 nautical miles and exchange the water, but some vessels don’t accept an exchange,” Wilkins said.
The IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention came into force on September 8, 2017, with the aim of protecting native marine environments of countries from non-native aquatic organism in ballast water picked up by ships from different parts of the world.
However, it is not just different BWM standards that shipowners have to contend with, but the possibility that another regional maritime body, the European Sea Ports Organisation, could impose its own carbon dioxide regulation if the IMO cannot deliver measures to cap CO2 emissions by 2023, trade sources said.
“It’s something that’s even more difficult to handle for any shipowner if he is entering different jurisdictions around the globe. He has to consider: “Where am I, what time zone should I change to a different fuel and so on,” Sand said.
“My point is that we need a global regulation for a global industry. We should not see more regional, national legislation. It makes a murky picture,” he said.
Furthermore, the IMO is in the midst of discussions of addressing carbon dioxide emissions in the industry, added Sand.
“It may sometimes look from the outside that the IMO is a feet-dragging body, but those who are familiar with the procedures, know that it is absolutely well-functioning. And, once things get approved, it’s really up to the individual member states to implement it” BIMCO’s Sand said.
“I think we should stop the blame game. There is one global body to regulate the business and that is the IMO,” he added.
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