Maritime transport: significant progress, Surfrider is at the forefront

The 71st session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) was held from the 3rd until the 7th of July. During these sessions, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) aims to fulfill its mission to protect the oceans, human health and reduce climate change. Surfrider is mobilizing to create a European label.

Feedback on the progress made during the 71st session of the MEPC

Ballast water management

These waters are used to keep the cargo ships balanced during the trip, they are taken from a point A and are often rejected at a point B. The problem is that the species taken from the A waters are sometimes different from those living in the B waters. And in case of a good adaptability, they can become invasive and colonize their new environment. Thus the MEPC adopted a timetable for vessels to comply with the Ballast Water Management Convention (it was supposed to come into effect on September 8th2017).

 Acidification of the oceans  

It should be noted that the sulfur rejections from those ships come from the combustion of hydrocarbons of different thickness, causing harmful effects on human health and also on the environment. They are involved in the acidification of the oceans which impacts the fauna and marine flora in the long term. If rejections continue at the current rate, scientists warn that the oceans will see “their acidity increased by about 170%, compared to pre-industrial levels, by 2100“. Making the oceans hostile to many species.

Control zones for Sulfur oxides (SECA) and nitrogen (NECA) exist. In these areas, identified as sensitive, exhaust fumes from ships are regulated. The ecosystems of these areas are thus preserved. Moreover, MEPC 71 has designated the North Sea and the Baltic Sea as NECA zones, which will take effect on January 1st of 2021.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Protecting the Arctic Environment

It is now common knowledge that the release of these gases into the atmosphere contributes to global warming. This mild spell is part of the melting of the ice caps, the climatic disruption, and the rise of the waters. MEPC 71 is working on an initial GHG emission reduction strategy for 2018 and by 2019 some vessels will be required to collect consumption data for each type of fuel oil that is used on board.

The MEPC, led by a coalition of NGOs of which Surfrider Europe is a member, wants to reduce the risks generated by the use and transport of HFO (heavy fuel oil) in Arctic waters. HFOs are already banned in Antarctic waters thanks to MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships), and it is recommended that all countries follow the same practice in the Arctic. Until now, navigation was very limited in these quasi-impracticable waters as well as the risks of pollution in HFO. But the opening of the northern maritime route increases these risks significantly, especially since it is a route mainly used for Russian hydrocarbons.

More details

Label Shipping

The ecological transition of maritime transport is an imperative, that’s why Surfrider Europe continues to mobilize in an active dialogue with Armateurs de France to instigate concrete commitments. The creation of a European label around this sector is the media for this work, which will be presented at the International Conference: Our Ocean on October 5th and 6th in Malta.

We will be presenting this commitment : Surfrider Foundation Europe announced it will work together with ship-owners and key maritime stakeholders in order to reduce the shipping pollution through a label for sustainable shipping in France by 2025. This label will aim at certifying that companies have measured and reduced their CO2 emissions during the transport of their products -from producer to seller- and will make these efforts visible to the consumers.