Interferry Regulatory News

Interferry represents the interests of our members in the regulatory arena, ensuring that fair and equitable regulations exist for the ferry industry. Where necessary, Interferry intervenes with regulators to ensure that regulations under development take into consideration all aspects of the shipping industry in general, and the ferry industry specifically. This is both beneficial for our members and it also makes for the formulation of better regulations that are inclusive to all marine sectors.

The main body for maritime regulations is the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and we are fortunate to have consultative status there. The IMO does an excellent job of directly governing the rules and regulations for international shipping, and also indirectly for domestic shipping in many countries. The regulations established by the IMO make shipping safer and more environmentally sound.

Representing the ferry industry at the IMO means that Interferry needs to continuously engage to ensure the IMO understands the circumstances under which our members operate, which can be significantly different from other parts of the shipping industry. Then, our members can embrace new regulations with the knowledge they have been designed with our industry in mind.

In 2017, we worked with the IMO on a range of files. However, three files particularly impact our members: energy efficiency, damage stability and ballast water management.

Energy Efficiency

For the past eight years, Interferry has been working with the IMO to develop a fit-for-purpose regulation on energy efficiency requirements for new ships. Called the Energy Efficiency Design Index, or EEDI, a new design must be more efficient than the average of old designs.

This has proven to be a challenge for our sector in the passenger, ro-ro passenger and ro-ro cargo segments, primarily because it’s difficult to determine what is an average ferry.

It’s not that Interferry and our members don’t think energy efficiency is important. On the contrary, the desire to reduce our environmental footprint means that many ferry operators have embraced energy efficiency for decades. But in 2015, when the new regulations came into effect, owners found it challenging to build new ships, because what looked to be a 20 percent improvement in fuel efficiency for a new ferry, only rated as a minor improvement under the EEDI framework.

Interferry, along with important Flag States and other industry associations, developed the technical evidence to underpin a change to the requirements. The evidence helped us reach an understanding that the original requirements were not workable for our industry sector.. The result: IMO changed the EEDI requirements by 20 percent and introduced an upper size DWT threshold. This threshold reflects that while the trend within our industry is to build larger ships, the statistics used to define the requirements contain very few large ferries, so it is important to be cautious and not extrapolate beyond what the average data indicates.

We are pleased we were able to successfully work with the IMO to represent our industry and ensure regulations, while challenging to meet, are feasible to comply with.

Damage Stability

Since the sinking of the Estonia in the Baltic Sea in 1994, the European Union (EU) has invested heavily in researching new technical requirements on passenger ships’ damage stability. Damage stability refers to a ferry’s ability to endure a collision and survive long enough for the ship to be evacuated in an orderly fashion.

From Interferry’s point of view, the research has focused much more on requiring the ‘unsinkable ship’, than preventing a collision from occurring in the first place.

After years of debate, in June 2017, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee adopted new damage stability requirements for passenger ships. The new regulations may be challenging to meet, especially for ferries with long lower holds.

Interferry teamed up with Japan and other countries to ensure that the technical guidelines could indeed be achieved, especially for the smaller end of the ferry segment. We managed to overturn a previously agreed level of “unsinkability” to end up with requirements we believe to be reasonable for ships carrying fewer than 1,000 passengers. For the larger ships, and in the aftermath of the sinking of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, the EU was adamant in introducing regulations that more steel/subdivision is required going forward.

Ballast Water

In co-operation with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), and a number of Flag States, Interferry reached the end of decade-long deliberations on requirements for Ballast Water Management. Interferry believed that the spread of invasive species should be prevented, but the issue is intercontinental rather than regional. Requesting a 20 nm ferry to kill off all organisms in the ballast water it lifts in Port A, and discharges in Port B, didn’t make sense for our industry. If a ferry always operates in the same water, Interferry argued that it should not be accountable for the spread of foreign species.

For the global fleet of ships, a wide industry concern was how 50,000+ ships would be able to fit Ballast Water Treatment equipment on the day the requirements went into force?

Interferry is pleased that the IMO resolved this issue through a staggering process related to the ships’ dry docking schedule. Last week’s MEPC71 added two more years of compliance time, extending the previous September 2017 enforcement timeline to September 2019. With the staggering process, many ships will have several years after the 2019 timeline to comply.

Interferry successfully participated in and negotiated three situations our members would find challenging related to Ballast Water Exchange.

In some areas, ships are not allowed to undertake Ballast Water Exchange. However, this is a requirement pending installation of the equipment. Last week’s MEPC means that ships can now choose to do nothing prior to the date they need to have the equipment installed.

In other areas, ships are allowed to undertake Ballast Water Exchange, but only within certain regions. No provisions were in place for a ship that crossed a Ballast Water Exchange area, but didn’t have the time to undertake a full exchange while within that zone. The IMO clarified this and agreed that the Port State needs to issue guidance on how to manage this issue operationally.

Since spread of invasive species is predominantly an intercontinental issue, provisions are in place for short sea ship to be exempted from the requirements to fit treatment systems. These exemptions, however, are onerous and call for the operator to conduct biological surveys and risk assessments. Together with Denmark and Singapore, Interferry successfully argued for the IMO to introduce an alternative approach, where it is not a specific ship that is exempted, but a geographical area, such as the common waters between Singapore and Indonesia. The legal provision is now in place, waiting for operators to engage with their Port States to designate these “Same Risk Areas.”