The IMO Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 10), 24-28 April 2023, agreed a draft MEPC circular on recommendations for the carriage of plastic pellets by sea in freight containers. It also focused on fishing gear loss prevention.
Carriage of plastic pellets
he draft text will be submitted to the Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC 9, which meets 20-29 September) for input. The draft circular recommends:
- Plastic pellets should be packed in good quality packagings which should be strong enough to withstand the shocks and loadings normally encountered during transport.
- Packaging should be constructed and closed so as to prevent any loss of contents which may be caused under normal conditions of transport, by vibration or acceleration forces.
According to the draft circular, transport information should:
- Clearly identify those freight containers containing plastic pellets.
- The shipper should supplement the cargo information with a special stowage request.
- Freight containers containing plastic pellets should be properly stowed and secured to minimize the hazards to the marine environment without impairing the safety of the ship and persons on board.
- Specifically, freight containers containing plastic pellets should be stowed: under deck wherever reasonably practicable; or inboard in sheltered areas of exposed decks.
The PPR Sub-Committee invited Member States and international organizations to submit any relevant information on packaging to the CCC Sub-Committee for consideration. Following review by the CCC Sub-Committee, the draft recommendations could be finalized by the next session of the PPR Sub-Committee (PPR 11 in 2024) and approved by MEPC 81 in spring 2024.
The Sub-Committee invited Member States and international organizations to submit concrete proposals on potential mandatory measures to a future session of the Sub-Committee taking into account discussions to date, and experience from the implementation of any non-mandatory measures.
The Sub-Committee also agreed that plastic pellets should not be carried in bulk. The Sub-Committee invited Member States and international organizations to submit relevant proposals to a future session of the Sub-Committee on potential regulatory changes that may be needed to prevent the shipment of plastic pellets in bulk.
Preparedness and response to incidents involving plastic pellets
The Sub-Committee approved terms of reference for a correspondence group to develop a draft guide on clean-up of plastic pellets from ship-source spills. A draft guide should be submitted to PPR 11 for consideration.
Reporting of fishing gear losses
The Sub-Committee continued its work on developing draft amendments to MARPOL Annex V to enhance the reporting of fishing gear losses. The Sub-Committee noted general agreement that globally consistent thresholds to report lost or discharged fishing gear should be developed, taking into account the wide variety of fisheries and fishing gear.
There was also general agreement that recreational vessels should be exempted from mandatory reporting requirements without any prejudice to any other MARPOL requirements.
The Correspondence Group on Marine Plastic Litter from Ships was tasked with continuing the work, including considering what data should be reported; who will be responsible for reporting; access to a future IMO database; and templates for reporting.
The Correspondence Group will also further develop draft amendments to MARPOL Annex V to provide for the reporting mechanisms, the modalities and the information to be reported to the Administrations and IMO to facilitate and enhance reporting of the accidental loss or discharge of fishing gear; and consider specific guidelines and relevant draft amendments to the 2017 Guidelines for the implementation of MARPOL Annex V (resolution MEPC.295(71)).
Marking of fishing gear
The Sub-Committee continued its discussions related to the marking of fishing gear. The Sub-Committee invited interested Member States and international organizations to submit proposals to PPR 11 for a draft MEPC circular to promote the implementation of fishing gear marking systems and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Voluntary Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear as well as draft amendments to MARPOL Annex V.
This should take into account work by the FAO, which has published A framework for conducting a risk assessment for a system on the marking of fishing gear –VGMFG Supplement 1; and Manual for the marking of fishing gear – VGMFG Supplement 2.
GloLitter Partnerships project
The global GloLitter Partnerships project, which aims to reduce sea-based marine plastic litter, has published a study on Reporting and retrieval of lost fishing gear: recommendations for developing effective programmes, which describes systems for fisher-led reporting and retrieval of lost fishing gear, and a report on Legal aspects of abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), which examines the legal responses to ALDFG in the context of marine fisheries.