Last week, representatives from the Presidency of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission reached a provisional agreement on the proposal for the new Directive on Port Reception facilities.
“This agreement is an important step towards the further safeguarding of the marine environment, the working space of our shipping industry” says Martin Dorsman, Secretary General of the European Community of Shipowners’ Associations, ECSA. “By facilitating all ships to deliver their waste to adequate port reception facilities ashore, the EU is showcasing how we can halt the generation of marine litter. This contributes towards the United Nationals Sustainable Development Goals to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds.” Notwithstanding the majority of ocean pollution is originating from land-based sources, the European shipping industry is committed to do its part.
ECSA supports the polluter pays principle in return for the safe and environmentally sound management of the ship generated waste. Ships will be allowed to deliver all garbage when paying a fixed waste fee, without port-specific limitations towards the volumes delivered. This will guarantee that ports keep investing in efficient port reception facilities, which are to be supported by transparent cost recovery systems.
Although the Directive mainly focuses on European ports and ships entering those, the EU legislators clearly recognise the importance of ensuring smooth operation of maritime traffic between EU and non-EU ports. This through including appropriate references to the on-going work at the International Maritime Organisation, IMO. It is very timely to further align the EU legislation with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which has been amended since the current directive was adopted in 2000.
Furthermore ECSA welcomes the mandatory provision that reduced fees need to be developed for ships engaged in short sea shipping trade. Mr. Dorsman adds: ”It is through measures like these, that EU legislators can improve the position of short sea vessels on the spot market, as previously stated in the Athens and the Valetta Declaration”. In addition, the waste fee will need to be reduced as well for those vessels designed and operated to minimise waste.
“We are looking forward now to take up the work again which started many years ago in the port reception facilities subgroup of the European Sustainable Shipping Forum ESSF and are eager to continue the good cooperation with the NGOs, the EU ports, the EU legislators and the Member States in a new expert working group”, emphasises Mr. Dorsman. The exchange of experience is enshrined in the new Directive. This is a clear and positive signal and invitation to all stakeholders to keep working together in order to protect marine species and to support people who depend on oceans, whether be it for employment, resources or leisure.”