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ICS urges IMO to finalise the revision of G8 Type Approval Guidelines as BWM Convention edges closer

ICS urges IMO to finalise the revision of G8 Type Approval Guidelines as BWM Convention edges closer
Indonesia has today become the latest country to ratify the IMO’s Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, potentially triggering entry into force of the new regulation in 12 months’ time from today.

Detailed checks are now ongoing to determine the exact size of the Indonesian national fleet, an IMO spokesperson told our sister online news service Seatrade Maritime News, with a result to be announced later this week. In any event, entry into force of the new regulation designed to prevent the spread of harmful and invasive aquatic species in ships’ ballast water is now 'very close', she added.

The BWM Convention, formally adopted in October 2014, will only enter into force 12 months after its ratification by 30 States, collectively representing 35% of world merchant shipping tonnage. Before Indonesia some 44 countries had already signed up… but representing only about 32.8% of the merchant fleet.

The convention, teetering on the brink of entry into force now looks set to take effect from late November 2016. However, revisions to the guidelines denoting the operating standard of each system have yet to be finalised, leading to the fear that IMO-approved systems might fail Port State Control (PSC) inspections, forcing alternative technology to be fitted.

The International Chamber of Shipping said it  believes, 'it is now incumbent upon IMO to finalise the revision of the G8 Type Approval Guidelines as soon as possible,' ICS argues, 'in order to ensure that shipowners can have absolute confidence that the expensive equipment they will soon have to install will be effective … and be regarded as fully compliant during PSC inspections.'

The situation is compounded by that of the US, whose own BWM legislation is more stringent than that of the IMO. While IMO legislation will force compliant owners to install a system, the US Coast Guard has not yet type-approved any systems, effectively meaning that shipowners wishing to operate in the US will be forced to gamble that the system they fit, which the ICS says can cost between $1m and $5m, will be US-compliant.

'There are over 50 treatment systems approved under the current IMO regime, but worryingly fewer than 20 manufacturers have so far indicated their intent to submit their systems for US approval,' says ICS. 'The conflicting IMO and US requirements could produce an impossible situation in which some ships might not be able to operate in US waters when the IMO Convention enters in force.'