Interferry’s regulatory priorities are established collaboratively with our membership, primarily through the guidance of the Board of Directors and the Operators Policy Committee (OPC.)

The Regulatory Affairs office works to ensure that the interests of ferry operators and users are adequately considered in the formulation of regulatory policy.

Explore our Regulatory Priorities for 2024 below.

In the wake of the 2015 COP21 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) drafted a decarbonisation roadmap. Its greenhouse gas (GHG) strategy calls for an annual reduction of GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 20%, striving for 30%, by 2030 with 2008 being the reference year. By 2040, the annual GHG emissions from international shipping should be reduced by at least 70%, striving for 80%, compared to 2008. The bottom line is to reach net-zero GHG by 2050.

Work to date
In 2022, the IMO’s 78th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 78) agreed on short-term measures to support IMO’s 2030 and 2050 goals on reduction of GHG. In July 2023, MEPC 80 adopted the IMO 2023 GHG Strategy, replacing the initial strategy adopted in 2018.

Out of those measures the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) will affect many ships in so much that they have to find measures to match the corresponding Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) criteria, in many cases through fitting power-limitation devices.

For ro-ro cargo and ro-pax ferries, the IMO has recognised the challenges with regard to the special correction factors for existing ships. For this reason, EEXI has had only negligible implications on Interferry members.

In parallel with EEXI, the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) was adopted by MEPC 78. Meant to enter into force on 1 January 2023, from the outset it was made clear that CII was subject to a comprehensive review before 2026. CII is a mandatory IMO instrument, which (uniquely) currently holds no legal repercussions for non-compliance. This is a clear indicator that Member States are not satisfied with the instrument in its current form.

While CII could be a valuable complement to the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), most segments in shipping take the view that forcing ships to meet an operational efficiency requirement is not realistic as many efficiency choices are beyond the operator’s commercial control or are negatively impacted by adverse weather conditions in certain parts of the world.

Interferry additionally argues that CII penalises port visits, something unacceptable as frequent port visits are intrinsic to ferry operations. Interferry has conducted a study seeking to adjust the port visits element of CII. It is worth noting that when improvements for certain issues are achieved by using an alternative metric, other issues are exacerbated. The study didn’t find a solution that provided a more fair and robust CII application for these ship types.

Furthermore, most of the ro-pax ferries that fall under the IMO framework incidentally operate fully or in part between EU ports. The number of international ro-pax services outside of Europe are few and far between. Consequently, about 90% of the ro-pax ferries earmarked to improve their CII score, are already subject to the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and FuelEU Maritime, thus complying with the EU’s fuel carbon content requirements (plus shore power). Going forward, a compulsory CII will only but complicate operators’ general carbon strategies.

Current status

It is expected that MEPC 82 (to be held in October 2024) will go into detail on the CII review, with a view to have a new agreement in place ahead of 2025, paving the way for introduction of CII on 1 January 2026.

The IMO Member States are negotiating a framework for a global goal-based fuel standard (GFS) similar to FuelEU Maritime, addressing the GHG output from the energy used by ships. The shipping industry is largely in favour of this approach, providing that much more attention is given to production and certification of low carbon fuels.

The GFS will require ships to use fuels that emit fewer well-to-wake GHG emissions until there is a complete transition to all zero-emissions fuels. This GFS is meant to encourage the adoption of new fuels, including renewable e-fuels (hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol) and sustainable biofuels. By setting limits on the GHG emissions intensity of fuels, it will drive investments in production capacity and infrastructure for new fuels.

The basic GFS approach is for a ship to achieve an attained Greenhouse Gas Fuel Intensity (GFI) to be compared to a required GFI. This must be underpinned by an agreement on the lifecycle assessment (LCA) values for different energy sources. Technical aspects such as verification of actual tank-to- wake methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emission factors as well as Cslip value for energy converters will take time to resolve. This includes an IMO fuel certification scheme to support the GFS, just as the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) supports FuelEU. Onboard carbon capture needs to be discussed and ultimately regulated as well.

To comply with the various GHG requirements on both national and international level, the adoption of renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) and biofuels will be prerequisite. This, in turn, calls for definitions of such fuels and a control mechanism to verify them.

The IMO has agreed an interim measure in line with the civil aviation’s ICAO model with Approved Sustainability Certification Schemes and the CORSIA Sustainability Criteria (Chapter 2) for CORSIA Eligible Fuels (MEPC.1/Circ. 905). In practice most administrations (especially those in the EU) will most likely accept fuels certified to the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) from International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC). Under this approach, a biofuel needs to provide a well-to-wake GHG emissions reduction of at least 65% compared to the well-to-wake emissions of fossil marine gasoil (MGO) of 94gCO2e/ MJ and meet a number of sustainability criteria (e.g. what type of biomass may be eligible).

This approach is similar but not exactly corresponding to the criteria and parameters established in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II). This means that a biofuel certified for CII improvement will not necessarily be recognised by the EU ETS and vice versa.

Current Status
MEPC 81 noted some progress on the initial guidelines adopted at MEPC 80, but default factors for several candidate fuels have not been agreed yet. It is questionable whether default values are required for any non-fossil fuels as most manufacturers will provide an actual value in the Proof of Sustainability because there is potentially a commercial advantage while the feedstocks are very varied. Going forward, a Correspondence Group will continue to work on the guidelines, and a separate working group under GESAMP will undertake a review of the LCA guidelines agreed to date, with a view to act as an independent body to plug any loopholes.

The EU ETS is an emissions cap-and-trade system that aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by setting a limit, or cap, on GHG emissions for certain sectors of the economy.

Each year, a limited number of EU Allowances (EUAs) is made available for trading in the market, and this is reduced yearly in order for the EU to meet its target of a 55% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 relative to 1990, and net-zero by 2050.
Each EUA gives companies a right to emit GHG emissions equivalent to the global warming potential of one tonne of CO2 equivalent.

The implementation timeline for shipping:

From 2025, for ships trading in the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), the yearly average GHG intensity of energy used on board, measured as GHG emissions per energy unit (gCO2e/MJ) will gradually decrease over time, by 2% in 2025 to as much as 80% by 2050.

The GHG emissions are calculated in a well-to-wake perspective, including emissions related to extraction, cultivation, production and transportation of the fuel, in addition to emissions from energy used on board the ship.

FuelEU Maritime is a special incentive regime to support the uptake of the so-called renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) with a high decarbonisation potential.

It calls for an obligation for passenger ships and container ships to use onshore power supply (OPS) for all electricity needs while moored at the quayside in major EU ports as of 2030.

A voluntary pooling mechanism applies. Ships will be allowed to pool their compliance balance with one or more other ships, with the pool – as a whole – having to meet the GHG intensity limits on average.

There will be time-limited exceptions for the specific treatment of the outermost regions, small islands, and areas that are economically highly dependent on their connectivity.

Revenues generated from the regulation’s implementation (‘FuelEU penalties’) should be used for projects in support of the maritime sector’s decarbonisation with an enhanced transparency mechanism.

The comprehensive revision of SOLAS II-2 in relation to ro-pax ferry fire safety did not address training issues, despite both industry and member states recognising that training was a key element in fire safety.

Many Interferry operators have expressed a need to revise existing fire-fighting training for ro-ro deck crew. This has been discussed in the Interferry Fire Safety Work Group which has endorsed the need for improved training, considering both general ro-ro deck issues and new challenges relating to the proliferation of alternatively fuelled vehicles.

Work to date
Interferry’s Fire Safety Work Group agreed that it would not be in the industry’s interest to introduce revised training requirements which would trigger additional certification of crew working in an industry characterised by a shortage of qualified seafarers. Therefore, the challenge lies in advocating more targeted ro-ro deck training, while minimising administrative implications.

One way to address fire-fighting training would be to revise the IMO Model Course 2.03 (Advanced Training in Fire Fighting). The 9th session of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW9) validated a revised course as late as February 2023, so it will take about five years before this Model Course can be revised again. Furthermore, members argued that it would be challenging to address explicit ro-ro issues in the more general advanced training course.

Current status
The IMO is currently underway with a comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code. Interferry is a member in the ongoing Correspondence Group. The revision shall be concluded by 2026/2027.

It is understood that the Correspondence Group will deal with 22 categories within a preliminary list of specific areas identified for review. This will likely include the implications of ‘New Energy Carriers’ and others, which are to be addressed from the 10th session of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE10) onwards.

Prompted by several Pure Car and Truck Carrier (PCTC) fire incidents, the US is co-ordinating a Correspondence Group reviewing the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) Special Provisions SP 961 & 962 for vehicles transported in vehicle, special category and ro-ro spaces.

IMO makes a distinction between three categories of ro-ro ships: vehicle carrier – this is a multi-deck ro-ro cargo ship designed for the carriage of empty cars and trucks (primarily short-sea and deep-sea PCTCs); ro-ro cargo ship – this is a ship designed for the carriage of ro-ro transportation units or with ro-ro cargo spaces (primarily short-sea freight ro-ros); ro-pax ship – this is a ship which carries more than 12 passengers and which has ro-ro cargo space on board (typically for coaches, trucks and passenger cars or tourist vehicles).

Current status
There is a significant recognition of this issue in the revised scope, which instructed the Correspondence Group to develop recommendations for provisions for the following vehicle categories transported in vehicle, special category and ro-ro spaces: new; in use/used/damaged; provisions for electric and hybrid vehicles;
The term ‘in use’ has been adopted to distinguish a car transported on a ro-pax ferry from one being transported from manufacturer to market.

In 2021, China suggested to the IMO to “evaluate the adequacy of fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction arrangements in vehicle, special category and ro-ro spaces in order to reduce the fire risk of ships carrying new energy vehicles (including electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles)”.

Current status
The 10th session of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE10) took this on board in March 2024. In line with the Correspondence Group under CCC, the generic term ‘ro-ro’ prompts a lot of clarification to differentiate the ro-ro ship types.

The outcome of the comprehensive LASH FIRE research project was decisive in gaining acceptance for a ro-ro ship with a drencher system not having the same challenges as a ro-ro ship with a CO2 fire suppression system (something prohibited on a ro-pax ferry). This has warranted an exclusion of ro-pax from parts of the pending Correspondence Group review.

Historically, reefer units have been the cause of several ro-ro fires. For this reason, reefer units have been recognised by both the ferry industry and administrations as a hazard to be addressed. Initial investigations have indicated that there is no regular, mandatory inspection regime of reefer units (and their electrical condition), something that could potentially reduce the risk factor significantly.

Current status
During discussions with the European Commission’s DG Move it was noted that a voluntary industry scheme whereby ferry operators request hauliers to ensure the technical condition of the reefer units could be the way forward to start a wider, pan-EU approach. Due to a lack of a clear standard to refer to, the idea tapered off.

The 1994 (2000) IMO High-Speed Craft Code (HSC Code) is based on the recognition that onboard ship safety measures can be complemented by shore-side infrastructure for regular services on coastal routes, whereas the conventional ship philosophy relies on the ship being entirely self-sustaining in case of an emergency.

The code has proven very successful since first introduced over 20 years ago. However, lightweight craft manufacturers and ferry operators alike have raised their voice regarding the speed element and wonder if there is there is any objective reason to retain the minimum speed threshold.

Work to date
In 2019, Interferry’s Policy Committee decided that the organisation should push for a change in the HSC Code, allowing for lightweight craft of any design speed to operate under the special provisions in the Code. On account of COVID-19, work was shelved until March 2022 when Interferry presented the concept to the European Commission’s Passenger Ship Safety Expert Group.

While there was support in terms of the ambition to promote lower speed designs, Member States were cautious of the complexity of changing the scope. There were also concerns about the duration to get this through the IMO, noting that even the planned 2028 revision of the HSC Code may be too optimistic due to the pandemic backlog.

Current status
The Danish Maritime Authority (DMA) took the initiative to work in parallel, tasking OSK Design to develop a complete gap analysis with the aim that Denmark could unilaterally issue exemptions from the IMO’s speed requirement. This would initially apply for domestic operations only but later on also for international operations between EU countries. This would facilitate a general acceptance within the EU and ultimately be presented to the IMO.

Next steps
Even once the OSK Design/DMA study is finalised during 2024 it is not evident how to proceed in an expeditious manner. Interferry has been cautious to put a proposal to the IMO, since it would not necessarily gain enough support. As an intermediary, if there were one or two operators/owners needing an adaptation of the HSC Code to see their newbuild projects realised, it would be timely to give a presentation on the sidelines of IMO’s December 2024 Maritime Safety Committee (MSC).

Initiated by the EU, the IMO is discussing the general provisions for discharge water from exhaust gas scrubbers. It is argued that here is growing scientific evidence of the harmful impact of exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS) discharge water on the marine environment, justifying the application of the precautionary principle to regulate such discharges.

There are Member States arguing that the evidence of actual negative impact of EGCS discharge water on the marine environment is not clear and that more scientific research is necessary to analyse the risk before potentially amending the water discharge criteria set out in the 2021 EGCS Guidelines.

In parallel with the IMO, the European Commission initiated a revision of the Ship-Source Pollution Directive (EC 2005/35). This was finalised by the European Parliament and the Council in early 2024. The original Directive matches the IMO MARPOL definitions of pollutants, but the new proposal suggests to add NOx, SOx, and scrubber discharge waters as new pollutants.

Current status
There are concerns regarding the possible penalisation of ships whose owners/operators have in good faith and in accordance with regulations, installed EGCS as an alternative compliance method. Several organisations, including the International Chamber of Shipping, claim that a global ban on the use of EGCS would create a negative precedent, eventually leading to a significant negative impact on trade. Additionally, it would impair the credibility of the IMO and the trust of the shipping industry in global regulations.

A revision of the Ship-Source Pollution Directive (EC 2005/35) allows for Member States to unilaterally prohibit discharge of scrubber water within their exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Unlike MARPOL which covers territorial waters (12 nautical miles), the Ship-Source Pollution Directive (SSPD) covers EEZ (200 nautical miles). As the revision is not supported by the Council and the Parliament, the SSPD will remain an instrument that regulates penalties for illegal discharges of oil and noxious liquid substances from ships into the sea.

Next steps
The 11th session of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 11), held 19-23 February 2024, noted the divergent views and invited interested Member States and international organisations to submit further proposals to PPR 12 on the identification and development, as appropriate, of regulatory measures and instruments on the discharge of discharge water from EGCS.

On 1 June 2023, the European Commission presented the maritime safety package, focusing on introducing modernised maritime safety and security rules on port state and flag state control, maritime accident investigation and ship source pollution. The package also includes a proposal to revise the Regulation on the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

Work to date
In February 2024, the Council and the Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the revision of the Directive on the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector, on ship source pollution and on flag state requirements and port state control.

Current status
While the title of the revision sounds quite ambitious, it doesn’t contain very much of substance from an industry point of view. One key outcome is the decision to not include the carbon intensity indicator (CII) in the ship risk profile for Port State Control, pending the IMO CII review.

In October 2024, the EU will implement its entry/exit system (EES – an automated IT system), which is much like the United States ESTA. Six months later, ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System – for visa-waiver countries) will enter into force. This could be very disruptive to operators between third countries and the EU (examples are UK-Continent and Spain-Morocco).

Work to date
During the regulatory process, no consultation was held with passenger ship operators (cruise and ferry). The operators’ main concern is for long delays in processing passengers in the ports, as the system seems to be inspired from the aviation-style border control. When enforced, each third country citizen needs to provide biometric data on his/her first entrance to the EU. This entails taking finger-prints and facial photos of all passengers aged 12 or older, which for car and bus passengers will be very time consuming.

Another concern with the operators is the lack of information to passengers. How will the EU informng third countries of these changes and what do operators need to do with their booking systems?

Current status
Interferry has set up a task force for EES/ETIAS, consisting of Brittany Ferries, DFDS, FRS, GNV, Irish Ferries and Stena Line.

Prompted by a court case against a member, Interferry has since 2019 had a small Working Group in place to seek members’ input on the EU Passenger Rights (PR) regulation (1177/2010). An overhaul of all PR regulations (aviation, train, maritime, bus) was announced in 2021, followed by public consultation in 2022. In 2023, the European Commission presented a package of proposals to ostensibly harmonise and improve the regulations. However, none of the issues that were contentious in the aforementioned maritime court case were addressed, and except for some potential linkage through multi-modal trips, nothing new has been presented for maritime.

Work to date
Interferry has worked closely with the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) on this file with joint comments in February 2024.

In November 2023, the European Commission presented “a series of proposals designed to improve the experience of passengers and travellers by strengthening their rights”.

Interferry and ECSA welcome the discussion on clarification of passenger rights in the different transport modes but notes a lack of any proposal addressing the ferry industry’s concerns over the existing regulation 1077/2010.

Additionally, stressing the concept ‘multimodal journeys’ will inevitably address certain aspects of the existing Maritime Regulation. Such overlaps will not necessarily be managed in the same legislative process in the future, further complicating matters.

The aforementioned series of proposals from the European Commission do not address any of the serious concerns the ferry industry has over the Maritime Passenger Regulations as set out in EC 1177/2010.

The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) has established a Joint Industry Working Group (JIWG) on safe Decarbonisation with the main objective to discuss and develop a common understanding for safety aspects of decarbonising technologies and fuels, including the possible solutions to identified challenges and relevant regulatory needs.

The JIWG will have a role in identifying and reviewing various decarbonising and carbon abatement technologies and fuels currently being proposed by shipyards/technology providers, followed by a review of readiness of rules and regulations to accommodate these new technologies.

The JIWG will focus on safety risk analysis and regulatory gap analysis (as described in the deliverables). The JIWG on Technology Readiness Level (TRL) is considering aspects other than safety such as Technology Readiness Levels and commercial aspects (CAPEX, OPEX) of fuels/technologies.

The JIWG will discuss a range of technologies related to GHG emissions from ships. Objectives of the group will be: sharing of technical knowledge and experience on proposed solutions; alignment of safety principles between industry and IACS; advise IACS on the most important and urgent issues to be addressed in possible IACS resolutions and guidelines; discuss between industry and IACS on possible common submissions to the IMO.