Secretary General of IMO, Kitack Lim.

There is no going back on the implementation of the 0.50 percent global limit of the sulfur content of ships’ fuel oil, which will come into effect on January 1, 2020, according to the International Maritime Organisation’s Secretary General, Kitack Lim.

This statement was made ahead of the fifth session of the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) currently taking place from 5-9 of February at the IMO headquarters in London.

The PPR deals with all matters ranging from the MARPOL Convention anexes, the control and management of harmful aquatic organisms in ships’ ballast water and sediments, biofouling, anti-fouling system, pollution preparedness, response and cooperation for oil and hazardous and noxious substances to environmentally sound ship recycling.

As explained by Lim, ensuring consistent implementation of the 0.50 pct requirement is a key item on the agenda of the meeting. The meeting will also continue to look at how to measure black carbon emissions from shipping.

“The lower global sulfur limit will have a significant beneficial impact on the environment and on human health, particularly that of people living in port cities and coastal communities,” Lim said.

“Consistent implementation to all ships will ensure a level playing field is maintained, with the result that the expected improvement of the environment and human health will be achieved. The large number of submissions on the matter indicates its importance and significance in the minds of all parties concerned, a point reiterated by the recent combined press release from industry and environmental observer organisations.”

“I am confident that the Sub-Committee, with the assistance of an intersessional meeting scheduled later this year, will, once again, rise to the challenge to ensure timely completion of this vital work,” Lim pointed out.

Other matters on the agenda include the development of further guidance to support the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention, including ballast water sampling and analysis. Revised guidelines for the use of dispersants for combating oil pollution at sea, which take into account experience from the Deepwater Horizon incident, are expected to be finalized.

The ongoing revision of the product lists and index in the international code for carriage of chemicals in bulk will continue, as well as consideration of requirements to address the discharge of high-viscosity solidifying and persistent floating products (such as certain vegetable oils).

The meeting will also consider including new controls on the biocide cybutryne in the convention for the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships (AFS Convention).