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IMO’s Upcoming 80th Marine Environment Protection Committee Meeting

The Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will be held from July 3rd to 7th, 2023, for their eightieth session at IMO headquarters in London.

The agenda will tackle topics such as addressing air pollution prevention measures, specifically energy efficiency of ships and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships in addition to harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water, addressing marine litter, ship to ship transfers, and underwater noise.

This meeting will be vital for tackling climate change focusing on the adoption of the revised IMO GHG Strategy. This revision will involve creating more reduction target standards regarding ship emissions as well as more plans economically and technically for phasing these out. Multiple working groups that have been proposed by the Chair and Secretariat after reviewing the submitted documents revisions will continue discussions during MEPC 80.

Draft amendments to the Data Collection System as to the amendment of the IMO ship fuel oil consumptions are also to be discussed at the meeting. In past sessions, broad support has been shown in favor of enhancing levels and detail of data that is reported within the DCS. It has been recommended that during MEPC 80 more consideration of drafted amendments be addressed with the goal to finalize through the Working Group on Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency.

The Ballast Water Management Convention Review Plan is presumed to be approved during MEPC 80 as well and is expected to discuss matters including ballast water record keeping, addressing challenging water quality for ship operation, and approval of draft protocols regarding numerous ballast water compliance monitoring devices.

Taking on marine litter for MEPC 80 will include new recommendations for ships that carry plastic pellets in freight containers as well as draft amendments regarding protocol for reporting lost containers. In addition to being a danger to marine life, lost containers pose a threat and hazard to navigation and safety at sea, particularly those containing hazardous substances. Ongoing work in the Sub Committee for Pollution Prevention and Response will also collaborate with MEPC and address the risk associated with plastic pellets to the marine environment as it is expected to be stated that these pellets should not be carried in bulk.

Proposals surrounding ship-to-ship transfers and awareness around their potential environmental risks are expected to be introduced and discussed. This relates to the increase in ship-to-ship transfers that occur at sea and the potential marine pollution prevention and liability concerns. What is proposed is a draft Assembly resolution.

Finally, revised guidelines regarding underwater noise reduction from commercial shipping are foreseen to be approved. Due to the detrimental effects to marine life underwater radiated noise has, the additions of updated technological information and recommended international reference standards have been made for this draft. This is in addition to the creation of templates to help shipowners create underwater radiated noise management plans. Combined with the expectation that MEPC will be designating a particular sensitive sea area in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea, there is progress to be made in protecting cetaceans from international shipping.

MEPC 80 will address a wide range of topics and issues that plague our oceans. With this meeting comes a great deal of promotion to tackle climate change through one of its largest contributors, air pollution. 

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