Policy & Legislation Update - April 2020

It has been a busy beginning to the year from a policy and legislation point of view with some significant new regulations entering into force internationally. No doubt you will be aware of the much anticipated  ‘Sulphur Cap’ which limits the sulphur content of fuel oil used on board ships to that not exceeding 0.5% m/m from 1st January 2020.

The lead up to 1st January was dominated by concerns about the availability of compliant fuel in certain ports, and accordingly IMO introduced the ‘FONAR (Fuel Non-Availability Report)’ scheme whereby ships unable to source compliant fuel should report the matter to their flag State, who should in turn notify IMO. In reality these concerns did not materialise on a significant scale – in the first few months of the sulphur cap, we received only two FONARs.

Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems, more commonly known as ‘Scrubbers’ have also been topical. This technology allows ships to continue using high sulphur fuel by ‘scrubbing’ the exhaust gas so that emissions are equivalent to ships using low sulphur fuel.  Although this technology is now commonplace on ships, it is important to note that scrubbers are an equivalent method of compliance and must be treated as such. This means that the arrangement has to be agreed by ourselves as flag State and then we must notify to IMO via their GISIS database. To date, around 5% of the Manx fleet have opted to install a scrubber – this is broadly in line with the international average.

From a legislation point of view, the Sulphur Cap is relatively old news since it was included in the 2008 amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, and thus is applied in Manx Law by the Merchant Shipping (MARPOL Annex VI – Prevention of Air Pollution) Order 2014. This means no legislative changes were required. We did, however, issue guidance to clients in TAN 005-19 and TAN 010-19 on how the regulation will be applied in practice.

A lesser-known regulatory change has been the amendments to SOLAS Chapter III which introduced new requirements for the maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats, rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear. From 1st January, annual and 5-yearly testing must be undertaken by an Approved Service Provider (‘ASP’) who must hold an approval from a Recognised Organisation specific to the make and type of equipment being serviced.

We must emphasise that the Ship Registry cannot approve ASPs so all queries in this regard should be directed to one of the Recognised Organisations in MSN 020. Unfortunately, we also cannot issue any exemptions against this requirement. TAN 006-19 provides further information.

Elsewhere, we’ve recently concluded consultations on MARPOL Annex II – Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk and on Accident Reporting and Investigation. We did not receive any significant feedback so will be proceeding with these new Regulations which will enter into force shortly.

We currently have one live consultation on updates to our regulations applying MARPOL Annexes III-VI and Protocol I. This closes on 30th April 2020. The proposed updates are routine in nature and aim to bring our regulations into line with the most up to date version of the Convention.

In the near future be launching a consultation on updates to our STCW Regulations, so keep your eyes peeled for this. All consultations can be viewed on the Isle of Man Government’s consultation hub: https://consult.gov.im/

Notices Published

TAN 003-20 - Digital CSRs

TAN 002-20 – COVID-19 – Advice to Ship Operators

TAN 001-20 – [withdrawn]

TAN 010-19 – EGCS – Approval Process and Guidance in Case of Failure

TAN 009-19 – Lifeboat & Rescue Boat Drill Declined by Port Authority

TAN 008-19 – Enclosed Spaces Recent Incident

TAN 007-19 – Cargo Hazards – Appreciate Them

TAN 006-19 – New LSA Maintenance Requirements – IMO Res. MSC.402(96)