Significant Issues and Developments for 2008

 

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The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships, 2001 (September 17, 2008)

The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships entered into force on September 17, 2008. Adopted under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization on October 5, 2001, the AFS Convention was signed by the United States on December 12, 2002, and President Bush transmitted it to the Senate for its advice and consent on January 23, 2008. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported a proposed resolution of ratification with two declarations on July 29, 2008, and the full Senate approved the proposed resolution of ratification on September 26, 2008. The Convention, which NOAA played an important role in negotiating and developing, bans the application or use of tributyltin (an anti-fouling agent used on the hulls of ships to prevent the growth of marine organisms), calls for its removal from existing anti-fouling systems by January 1, 2008, and establishes a detailed and science-based framework for considering future restrictions on antifouling systems. Anti-fouling systems are necessary to increase vessel fuel efficiency and minimize the transport of hull-borne species but such systems can also have an adverse impact on the marine environment. In the early days of shipping, ships’ hulls were coated with lime and later arsenic. These substances slowly leached out to kill marine organisms that had attached themselves to the hulls. However, they persisted in seawater damaging the marine environment. The Administration’s proposed implementing legislation, a revision and replacement of the Organotin Anti-Fouling Paint Control Act of 1988, was submitted to Congress by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson on February 14, 2008. As of October 1, 2008, the Convention has been ratified by 34 countries, with a combined 52.81 percent of world merchant shipping tonnage.

Additional reference information: Some of these links are to external sites.


Maritime Pollution Prevention Act of 2008 (July 21, 2008)

On July 21, 2008, President Bush signed into law H.R. 802, the "Maritime Pollution Prevention Act of 2008." The President’s signature allows the U.S. to become a Party to Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). Under MARPOL Annex VI, which addresses vessel air pollution, large diesel-powered, ocean-going vessels such as container ships, tankers, cruise ships and bulk carriers must limit their emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and use cleaner-burning fuels to reduce their sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Annex VI Parties may also designate areas off their coasts -- called SO2 emission control areas or SECAS -- where more stringent fuel controls apply. GCIL played an important role in negotiating MARPOL Annex VI, which entered into force in May 2005.

Additional reference information: Some of these links are to external sites.