The UGS welcomes the conclusions of the UN IMO MEPC73 which direct IMO to work further towards a smooth, safe and consistent implementation of the 2020 global sulphur cap in marine fuels

Piraeus, 29.10.2018

The Union of Greek Shipowners welcomes the decision by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 73) (London, October 22-26, 2018) of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (UN IMO) to appropriately address and examine the considerable safety implications and respective challenges stemming from the implementation of the new 0.5% sulphur limit in marine fuels as of 1st January 2020.

MEPC 73 decided to forward consideration of the safety concerns already identified to the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 100) in December 2018, which is now called upon to deal with all these sensitive and important technical issues. The Committee also recognized the validity of the industry’s and major flag states’ arguments calling for explicit input regarding the consistent implementation of the new regulation and invited further concrete proposals for its enhancement.

We are pleased to see that the safety aspects of the transition to low-sulphur marine fuels have been recognized and will be considered within the UN IMO structure and work programme. The UGS has stressed on several occasions that this should be the case and that the safety of life at sea should take precedence over formal compliance”, the President of the UGS, Mr. Theodore Veniamis noted.

The UGS firmly stands by the UN IMO, as the sole global regulator for shipping, which ensures the smooth implementation of properly considered and effective regulations for the benefit of the environment and the sustainability of the shipping industry, with safety at sea as a top priority. “We are looking to the UN IMO for an enhanced implementation process with regard to the 2020 marine fuels, which will provide safeguards against the safety and operational issues already detected and which will not burden the ships and their crews with unrealistic and disproportionate responsibility and liability”, Mr. Veniamis said.

The need for a formalized, enhanced implementation process was met with strong support by influential IMO Member States, despite opposition from parties that seem to be more interested in formal compliance than real environmental protection.


It is important that the UN IMO’s work on an enhanced implementation process is not discouraged by commercial considerations which oppose it on the grounds that it allegedly delays measures for the protection of the environment. Overlooking real challenges which can result in a major threat to ships’ crews and machinery, and by extension, to the marine environment cannot be regarded as proactive”, Mr. Veniamis concluded.