MEPC 81 adopts and approves a raft of measures to protect the marine environment

Published: 25 March 2024

The IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee at its 81st Session adopted amendments to mandatory instruments and approved a series of measures in order to protect the marine environment- from emission control areas in Canada and Norway through to electronic ballast water record books.  A summary of the approvals and adoptions is provided here. 

Amendments to the Ballast Water Management Convention concerning the use of electronic record books  

The amendments provide a definition of electronic record book as well as detailing how they can be used in lieu of a hard copy book. Details are also provided on the verification and signing by the Master and information on translation and language for where English is not the working language of the ship.

The entry-into-force of the amendments will be 1 October 2025.

Amendments to Article V of Protocol I of MARPOL concerning revised reporting procedures for the loss of containers

An additional paragraph is added to Protocol I – Provisions concerning reports on incidents involving harmful substances Article V Reporting procedures  which states that In case of the loss of freight container(s), the report required by article II(1)(b) shall be made in accordance with the requirements on danger messages as provided for in regulations V/31 and V/32 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974. The entry-into-force date will be 1 January 2026 to align it with the entry-into-force date of the associated amendments to chapter V of SOLAS.

The related draft SOLAS chapter V amendments are set to be adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 108), in May 2024, and will require the master of every ship involved in the loss of freight container(s) to communicate the particulars of such an incident to ships in the vicinity, to the nearest coastal state and to the flag state.

Circular on the carriage of plastic pellets in freight containers 

MECP approved recommendations for the carriage of plastic pellets by sea in freight containers which includes the following: 

  • Plastic pellets should be packed in good quality packaging which should be strong enough to withstand the shocks and loadings normally encountered during transport. Packaging should be constructed and closed to prevent any loss of contents which may be caused under normal conditions of transport, by vibration or acceleration forces
  • Transport information should clearly identify those freight containers containing plastic pellets. In addition, the shipper should supplement the cargo information with a special stowage request requiring proper stowage
  • 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, they should be stowed under deck wherever reasonably practicable, or inboard in sheltered areas of exposed decks. 

The circular (MEPC.1/Circ.909) will be made available to BIMCO members when issued by the IMO. 

New emission control areas in Canadian Arctic waters and Norwegian Sea 

MEPC 81 - recognising the potential benefits to the environment and to human health - approved proposals to designate two new ECAs for the control of NOX, SOX and particulate matter, as appropriate, for the Canadian Arctic waters and Norwegian Sea. The two ECAs and relevant amendments to MARPOL Annex VI are expected to be adopted at MEPC 82 in October 2024.  

Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI

Amendments were made and adopted on low-flashpoint fuels and other fuel oil related issues, marine diesel engine replacing steam system, accessibility of data and inclusion of data on transport work and enhanced granularity in the IMO Ship Fuel Consumption Database (IMO DCS)). 

Any members wishing to learn more about any of the aforementioned approvals and amendments are welcome to reach out the BIMCO secretariat. 


To learn more about developments of significance please visit MEPC 81 - developments of significance.

To learn more about developments related to Ballast Water Management please visit Progress made on ballast water matters by MEPC 81.


Members are invited to join us online to learn more about the outcome of the meeting on 3 April, 15+15 webinar: What happened at the latest IMO MEPC?


Aron Soerensen


Aron Soerensen

Head of Marine Environment

Copenhagen, Denmark