Long before the COVID-19 pandemic updates to the regulatory regime were already planned for 2021. These changes will continue to be implemented, possibly with greater preparatory challenges due to the varied restrictions that have been experienced. In this article, Mark Towl, LR's Principal Specialist for Regulatory Risk, Development and Compliance takes a look at the new regulations that will take effect over the coming year.
While strictly speaking the 2018 amendments to the MLC and the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) requirements for existing ships under the EU’s Ship Recycling Regulation (SRR) come into effect on 26 and 31 December 2020 respectively, they are close enough to 2021 to be worthy of inclusion here.
The new MLC requirements will mean that Seafarers Employment Agreements (SEA) will continue to have effect while a seafarer is held captive on or off the ship as a result of piracy or armed robbery against the ship, until such time that the seafarer is repatriated or until the situation resolves, and applies regardless of whether the SEA has expired, or if notice has been given to suspend or terminate it. Shipowners will need to amend their procedures accordingly to take account of the upcoming requirements.
The EU SRR will mean that all ships of 500 GT and over entering either European Economic Area (EEA – the EU plus Norway and Iceland) or United Kingdom (UK) ports and anchorages will be required to have a verified IHM onboard. EEA and UK flagged ships will require an Inventory Certificate issued by or on behalf of their flag state, ships which are registered in other countries will require a Statement of Compliance issued on behalf of their flag state.
Shipowners and operators should have already started this process in order to ensure compliance before 31 December deadline. However, for those who have not started we would advise you to start as soon as possible. To further support industry stakeholders with preparing for this change, we published a summary of the most frequently asked questions relating to EU SRR compliance.
What’s new for 2021?
In 2017, the IMO Facilitation and Maritime Safety Committees approved MSC-FAL.1/Circ.3 which provides high-level recommendations for cyber risk management that can be incorporated into existing management processes. Cyber risk is perhaps something that hasn’t been considered with the seriousness it deserves, despite several high-profile cyber-attacks the maritime sector has faced in recent years, including one on the IMO itself in September. With the publication of Resolution MSC.428(98), where required by the flag state, cyber risks are to be addressed in safety management systems from the first company Document of Compliance audit after 1 January 2021.
Amendments (05-19) to the IMSBC Code and Amendments (40-20) to the IMDG Code
There are regular amendments made to both the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG) to account for the latest information available and to consider cargoes that may not have previously been carried. Amendments to the IMSBC Code have been voluntary during 2020 but become mandatory from 1 January 2021. The amendments provide new individual cargo schedules with specific carriage requirements for the following Group B cargoes (cargoes that possess a chemical hazard which could give rise to a dangerous situation on a ship):
- Flue Dust, containing Lead and Zinc.
- Matte containing Copper and Lead.
- Metal Sulphide concentrates, self-heating UN 3190.
- Seed Cakes and Other Residues of Processed Oily Vegetables.
- Zinc Oxide-Enriched Flue Dust.
Shipowners may request that these cargoes are included in their certification.
The IMDG Code has been updated with Amendments (40-20) that will be available for voluntary use from 1 January 2021, becoming mandatory from 1 June 2022. Amendments include segregation requirements for alcoholates and a new special provision and handling code for medical waste.
New requirements for chemical tankers
There are several upcoming changes that will have an impact on chemical tankers including changes to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC) Code carriage requirements for some chemicals, in particular, some products previously classified as non-toxic will now be considered toxic. It’s important that ship managers and masters are aware of this as from 1 January 2021 some ships will require a new Certificate of Fitness, including a new List of Products, based on the revised requirements.
At the same time new MARPOL Annex II prewash requirements enter into force for cargoes of persistent floating substances with high viscosity. These include cargoes such as vegetable oils and paraffins when ships are in one of the designated special areas which are the North West European Waters, Baltic Sea, Western European Waters and Norwegian Sea. Ship Procedures and Arrangements Manuals will need to be amended prior to entry into force on 1 January 2021. The IBC Code and the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk have also been updated to reflect the MARPOL amendments.
New sewage pollution prevention requirements for passenger ships
Due to the nature of the Baltic Sea, where the water volume exchange rate is very limited, Resolution MEPC.274 was adopted at MEPC 69 which took place in 2016. The requirements in Res. MEPC.274(69) will come into effect for passenger ships with a keel laying date before 1 January 2016 trading in the Baltic Sea special area from 1 June 2021, which requires holding tanks or a sewage treatment system meeting the new standards.
There is an allowance made for which passenger ships with a keel laying date prior to 1 January 2016 en route directly to or from a port located outside the special area to or from a port east of longitude 28° 10’ E within the special area, are not required to comply until 1 June 2023, provided that they do not make any other port calls within the special area.
A new ECA for Baltic and North Seas
A new Emission Control Area (ECA) will come into effect in the North and Baltic Seas from 1 January 2021, which will be applicable to all ships constructed on or after 1 January 2021 to be fitted with Tier III engines. Future trading areas of the ship will need to be considered at the contracting stage to ensure that ships are able to trade as intended.
The consideration and development of new requirements at an international level has been impacted by the pandemic. The IMO suspended its meetings for around six months whilst it changed the way it functioned to allow virtual meetings to take place. The meetings are shorter and the agendas have been compressed significantly.
This has meant that some regulatory developments have been prioritised, such as GHGs and carbon intensity reduction, others will continue to be developed but may take longer than anticipated to come into effect, for example, the new SOLAS Chapter XV on Industrial Personnel, and some new developments might have to wait a while longer until they are duly considered.
The information in this article was correct at time of press.
For further information about these or any other upcoming regulatory
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