In particular, the 71st session of the MEPC in London decided that ships built after 8 September 2017 should have a ballast water management system (BWMS) installed upon delivery. Existing ships, however, will have until their first or second MARPOL Annex I IOPPC renewal survey after 8 September 2019 to install a BWMS, depending on when the survey occurs.

What is effectively a two-year deferral on the implementation schedule for existing ships will be incorporated in the BWMC as new Regulation B-3, which sets out the timeframe for when ships should install a BWMS. The wording in Paragraph 10, meanwhile, reflects the desire by IMO member states to limit any further decoupling of the MARPOL Annex I IOPP Certificate from other convention certificates before the 8 September 2019 cut-off date.

Alfonso Castillero, Chief Commercial Officer of the Liberian International Ship &Corporate Registry (LISCR), the US-based manager of the Liberian Registry, explained that Liberia was one of the first administrations to ratify the convention, and is entirely committed to its effective and smooth implementation. However, it was compelled to seek support of other stakeholders too, due to practical and technical issues.

“Liberia began proposing amendments to the convention at earlier sessions of MEPC, in the belief that the proposed implementation schedule was unworkable within the predicted time-frame and given the availability of BWMS. Following last year’s MEPC 70 meeting, where no clear decision was taken on the two sets of draft amendments, Liberia initiated discussions with other interested IMO member states and industry organizations to develop a single unified amendment taking into account parts of both drafts.

Concluding, Mr Castillero expressed his delight for the approval of the draft amendments, with a view to eventual adoption at MEPC 72.

"With just two months before the BWMC enters into force, the decision is timely and will ensure that the necessary pieces are in place for shipping and other stakeholders to effectively and smoothly implement the convention, with consequent positive implications for the protection of the marine environment.”