Press Release
March 5, 2018

Senate concurs with SOLAS '78 and '88, MARPOL conventions, 4 other maritime agreements

The Senate adopted today seven maritime treaties, including two resolutions concurring in the ratification to the 1978 and 1988 international protocols relating to transnational maritime safety.

Senate Resolutions No. 648, 649, 650, 651, 652, 653, and 654 were sponsored by Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and were approved with 19 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.

Legarda said that the Protocol of 1978, relating to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS Convention), was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to update the safety standards of crude carriers and product carriers by requiring the fitting of inert gas systems as well as radars and steering gear mechanisms in vessels to enhance the safety of navigation.

The Protocol 1978, SOLAS Convention, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 10, 2017. The Convention requires crude carriers and product carriers of 20,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) and above to be fitted with an inert gas system. All ships of 1,600-10,000 gross registered tonnage (GRT) and above must have two radars, each capable of operating independently.

The Protocol 1988 SOLAS Convention, signed by President Duterte on July 17, 2017, specifies the standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships compatible with their safety.

The 1988 protocol relating to the international convention on load lines, which was adopted in 1966, also aims to address issues on the safety of maritime vessels. The Convention was ratified by the President on August 23, 2017.

The Load Lines Convention prescribes the minimum reserve buoyancy and freeboard of ships to ensure their stability by preventing overloading. It likewise prescribes visible special markings amid ships on each side of the ship in order to determine their loading limits under different types of water conditions.

"As a nation with a long history of sea tragedies, the Philippines has recognized the important role of the Load Lines Convention as a major pillar of maritime safety by preventing the overloading of ships through the presence of visible load line marks," Legarda explained.

"The Philippines' accession to Load Lines Convention will demonstrate our country's commitment in ensuring the safety of ships and preventing accidents that could lead to massive loss of life and serious damage to the marine environment through oil spills," she added.

The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships, 2001, or the AFS Convention, which was signed by Presidnet Durterte on May 16, 2017, aims to address the risks of the harmful compounds that threaten the sustainability of the marine environment and safety of human health due to the contamination of marine species. It prohibits the use of harmful "organotins" or chemical compounds based on tin and carbon, considered toxic and have long-term adverse effect in the environment.

"Scientific studies and investigations by the governments and competent international organizations have shown that certain AFS used on ships pose a substantial risk of toxicity and other chronic impacts to ecologically and economically important maritime organisms, and that human health may be harmed as a result of the consumption of affected seafood," Legarda said.

"As an archipelagic country of more than 7,000 islands, it is only logical that safeguarding the state of our marine flora and fauna will be foremost in our agenda as this will be our most important legacy to the next generation of Filipinos--a healthy ocean and a sustainable and robust marine environment," Legarda added.

The Protocol of 1997 to Amend the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as Modified by the Protocol of 1978 Relating Thereto, or the MARPOL Protocol ratified on August 9, 2017, concurred in the accession to the 1997 protocol amending the international convention for the prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL), as modified by the 1978 protocol.

The 1997 protocol sets limits on the main air pollutants contained in ships' exhaust gas, including sulphur dioxide (SOx) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. It prohibited deliberate emissions of ozone-depleting substances, and required the designation of emission control areas, setting more stringent strategies for SOx, NOx, and particulate matter.

"Air pollution from international shipping accounts approximately for 50,000 premature deaths per year in Europe, at an annual cost to society of more than €58 billion according to recent scientific studies," Legarda revealed.

"The Protocol requires that ships over 400 gross tonnage (GT) and all platforms and drilling rigs engaged in voyages to ports and waters where the MARPOL convention applies have a valid International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate (IAPPC) confirming compliance with both the equipment and operational requirements of Annex VI," Legarda explained.

The Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas, was signed by President Duterte on August 10, 2017.

The agreement, Legarda said, applies to all fishing vessels authorized by the state party to fly its flag on the high seas for fishing operations. This likewise establishes flag state responsibility in ensuring that fishing vessels, entitled to fly the flag of a state party, do not engage in activities that undermine the effectiveness of international conservation and management measures.

Another maritime convention is the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing.

Under the agreement, foreign vessels intending to enter designated ports were required to provide advance notice to port authorities and request permission for port entry. The Philippines, acting as a Port State, could deny a vessel entry into its ports if it has sufficient proof that the vessel had engaged in IUU fishing or fishing related activities in support of such fishing.

"The Philippines may also deny a foreign vessel entry into its designated ports if it is included in a list of vessels engaged in such activities by a relevant regional fisheries management organization in accordance with the rules and procedures of such organization and in conformity with international law," Legarda said. (Yvonne Almirañez)

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