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Temporary relaxation for 6 months enforcement of IHM-obligations by EU

Latest news – Ship may get 6 months grace time after 2020 to get the EU Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) with a certificate or statement of compliance.

European Commission published a Commission Notice Guidelines on the enforcement of obligations under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation relating to the Inventory of Hazardous Materials of vessels operating in European waters on the Official Journal of the European Union (2020/C 349/01). The Notice mainly elaborates the compliance of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, the specific scenarios due to Covid-19 and a harmonised approach to it. The general guiding principles are also clarified in it.

The EUSRR dictates that all existing EU-flagged vessels as well as vessels with non-EU flags when calling at EU ports, will be required to carry an IHM identifying all the hazardous materials on board along with a Certificate/Statement of Compliance, by 31 December 2020 the latest.

However, the current situation is that Covid-19 restrictions have led to significant difficulties in surveying ships and producing certified IHMs. Industry stakeholders estimate that several thousand ships are likely to be unable to comply with the IHM obligations and may not have the required certification by the deadline of 31 December 2020. Hence, the Commission decides to establish some common guidelines in order to ensure a harmonised approach towards enforcement by the EU port States authorities during ship inspections as of 1 January 2021.

In relation to the enforcement of the Ship Recycling Regulation, two specific Covid-19 related scenarios are likely to happen that may require a more harmonised approach during inspections building on the general guiding principles with regard to the ‘case law’ and ‘EMSA’ guidance quoted in the context. The harmonised approach is suggested to be applied temporarily for a limited period of 6 months after the entry into application of the IHM-related obligations for existing EU flagged vessels and non-EU flagged vessels calling at EU ports (i.e. until 30 June 2021).

The two specific Covid-19 related scenarios are as follow:

  • 1). Vessels without a valid IHM and/or accompanying certificate. Please pay attention to the statement that “the (IHM) documents should be completed and approved within 4 months after the (PSC) inspection” under Specific scenario 1), 1st para on page 3 – it is not a long 4 month period and companies may need extra effort to get it done. Some may see that it is unlikely that there will be any additional flexibility on this by the PSC authorities. Therefore companies will have to factor the time frame into their planning for the development of the IHM.
  • 2). Vessels with a semi-completed IHM with an associated approved Inventory Certificate or Ready for Recycling Certificate (for EU flagged ships) or the Statement of Compliance (for non-EU Flagged ships), that does not contain on-board (either targeted or random) sampling

Thus, it is a temporary relaxation for 6 months, and more significantly, it places all power for deciding whether to accept the evidence in the hands of the individual PSC Officer.

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