A number of important regulations and requirements entered into force during 2018, some of these being local or regional measures whilst others affecting our industry on a global scale.

Bridge Navigation Watch Alarm System (BNWAS)

The final phase of the implementation schedule for the carriage of BNWAS started in January 2018 whereby cargo ships of 150 gross tonnes and upwards but less than 500 gross tonnes and constructed before 1 July 2002, are required to install BNWAS no later than the first survey after 1 January 2018. The requirements are laid down in Resolution MSC.350(92) and interim guidance provided in MSC.1/1474 requires BNWAS’s automatic mode, if available, not be used when the ship is underway. Performance standards of BNWAS as laid down in MSC.128(75) are yet to be revised to reflect this requirement.



The 2016 edition of the IMDG Code, which contains the 38-16 Amendments came into effect on 1 January 2018 for a period of two years. The IMDG Code 2018 Edn. which includes Amendment 39-18 comes into force on  1 January 2020 but may be applied voluntarily from 1 January  2019.


Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL)

The 2016 amendments which include new requirements on the use of the new FAL forms, electronic data interchange, discrimination of seafarers in respect of shore leave on the grounds of nationality, race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, or social origin and irrespective of the flag State of the ship, and how to deal with stowaways, came into force on 1 January 2018. The updated FAL forms cover IMO General Declaration (FAL Form 1); Cargo Declaration (FAL Form 2); Ship's Stores Declaration (FAL Form 3); Crew's Effects Declaration (FAL Form 4); Crew List (FAL Form 5); Passenger List (FAL Form 6); and Dangerous Goods (FAL Form 7).


Polar code

Existing ships, i.e. ships built before 1 January 2017, planning to operate in Polar waters must comply with relevant requirements of Polar code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever comes first, after 1 January 2018 (Resolution MSC.386(94)). Minimum requirements for the training and qualifications of masters and deck officers on ships operating in polar waters became mandatory under STCW from 1 July 2018, as per Chapter 12 of Polar Code. The International Chamber of Shipping has produced a useful document highlighting the changes in this regard. It can be accessed here. Gard published a detailed guidance on ‘Enhancing safe ship operations in the Arctic’ in October 2017, which can be found here.


IOPP certificate

Resolution MEPC.276(70) amended form B of the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPP). Certificates in the revised format should be issued to vessels at the first IOPP survey on or after 1 March 2018.



Amendments contained in Resolution MEPC.277(70) entered into force on 1 March 2018. The most significant changes were:

  • Inclusion of specific criteria for classifying solid bulk cargoes as harmful to the marine environment (HME), along with a requirement for shippers of solid bulk cargoes, other than grain, to declare whether or not the cargo is classified as HME in accordance with the criteria.
  • A new format for the Garbage Record Book, splitting the book into Part I and II. Part I shall be used to record discharges of garbage from all types of vessels and includes the new garbage category e-waste. Part II shall be used to record discharges of cargo residues from vessels carrying solid bulk cargoes, covering both HME and non-HME cargo residues. 
  • Along with an up to date Garbage Record Book, receipts obtained from reception facilities must also be kept on board for a period of two years.

Our Gard Alert on the disposal and handling of residues from solid bulk cargoes can be accessed here.


Biofouling on vessels arriving in New Zealand

From 15 May 2018, vessels must arrive in New Zealand with ‘clean hulls’. For vessels staying up to 20 days and only visit designated ports, a ‘clean hull’ means a slight amount of biofouling: slime layer, goose barnacles, and up to 5% cover of early biofouling depending on the area fouled. For vessels staying longer than 20 days or visiting places other than the designated ports, a ‘clean hull’ means no biofouling apart from a slime layer and goose barnacles. To demonstrate compliance, vessels arriving in New Zealand will be required to submit information about their biofouling management practices. For vessels relying on continual management, this includes a biofouling management plan and record book consistent with the IMO Biofouling Guidelines. New Zealand’s Biofouling requirements can be found here. Our Insight on this topic can be found here.


EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (EU GDPR)

The Regulation, which came into force on 25 May 2018, replaces Directive 95/46/EC and strengthens and harmonizes EU/EEA procedures concerning the collection, storage, processing, access, use, transfer and erasure of personal data. The aim of the GDPR is to protect natural persons in relation to the processing of data. The Regulation applies to those within the EU/EEA which may hold such data, but also to those outside the EU/EEA which may offer goods or services to natural persons within the EU/EEA, or send personal data to recipients within the EU/EEA. Gard’s member circular (No.01/2018) on this topic can be found here.


Carriage of ECDIS

Cargo ships, other than tankers, of 10,000 gross tonnes and above, but less than 20,000 gross tonnes, and constructed before 1 July 2013, must be fitted with ECDIS no later than the first survey on or after 1 July 2018, pursuant to Resolution MSC.282(86). This was the last phase of the implementation schedule for the carriage of ECDIS. STCW.7/Circ.24/Rev.1 states that there is no requirement for the approved training on ECDIS equipment to be type specific. Members and clients should bear in mind that it is their duty to ensure that seafarers employed on their ships are familiarized with the installed ECDIS. Such familiarization records may be checked by external inspectors such as PSC.


Radio telephone for fire fighters

Resolution MSC.338(91) requires ships constructed on or before 1 July 2014 to carry a minimum of two two-way portable radiotelephones for each fire party for the purposes of fire-fighter's communication, no later than first survey after 1 July 2018. These radio telephones shall be intrinsically safe or of an explosion proof type. Members and clients should carry appropriate documentation provided by the maker to evidence such and should also update the ship’s fire control plans accordingly.



Ships of 5,000 gross t onnes and above which are engaged in international voyages must carry an approved ‘Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan’ (SEEMP Part II) by 31 December 2018. After verification, vessels will be issued with a confirmation of compliance document which must be carried onboard. It should include the methodology that will be used for collecting and reporting the vessel’s fuel data. The first reporting period under the IMO’s data collection system for fuel oil consumption of ships shall be for the calendar year 2019.


EU regulation on ship recycling

Application of the EU Regulation No.1257/2013 on Ship Recycling (EUSRR) came into force on 31 December 2018. It requires that all sea going vessels flying the flag of an EU member state must use an approved ship recycling facility included in the European List, the latest version of which lists 26 yards including three yards outside the EU. Two yards are in Turkey and one yard in the United States. This list can be found here. Ships must also carry on board a certified Inventory of Hazardous Material (IHM) and statement of compliance, both for EU and non-EU flagged vessels, which may be checked by PSC inspectors. Deadlines for compliance for EU flagged ships are 31 December 2020 for existing ships and for ships built after 31 December 2018, upon delivery, whereas for non-EU flagged it is 31 December 2020. Guidance on the inventory of hazardous materials can be found here. EU flagged ships covered by 1257/2013 are excluded from the scope of the Waste Shipment Regulation 1013/2006 (EUWSR).


China Emission Control Areas

There were quite a few developments by Chinese authorities in relation to domestic emission control areas (ECAs), such as:

  • Since 1 January 2018, ships have been required to burn fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.5% while berthed at all ports within the three Chinese ECAs. Ships must switch to compliant fuel within one hour of arriving at their berth and burn compliant fuel until not more than one hour prior to departure.
  • From 1 October 2018, ships must burn fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.5% at all times while operating inside the Yangtze River Delta ECA. Hence, from this date, any fuel change-over operation should be completed prior to the entry into or commenced after exit from the Yangtze River Delta ECA.


Ban on scrapping of foreign flagged ships in China

In April 20 18, China intimated in its announcement no.6 on the regulation of administration of importation of solid waste and pollution, that, besides other solid wastes, demolition of foreign ships in domestic yards will be banned 31 December 2018 onwards. Domestic ship breaking yards will henceforth cater only to the scrapping of domestic tonnage.


Delay in the introduction of new Vessel General Permit requirements for vessels calling USA

On 4 December 2018, the President of the United States signed the ‘Vessel Incidental Discharge Act’ into law. Among other, the law extends the validity of the current 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP) beyond 18 December 2018, which means that operators of vessels currently without permit coverage can continue to file Notices of Intent also after this date. Our Gard alert on this topic can be found here.


Biofouling Management Regulations to Minimize the Transport of Non-indigenous Species from Vessels Arriving at California Ports

Bio fouling regulations entered into force in California on 1 October 2017 for vessels of 300 gross tonnes or more and carrying, or capable of carrying, ballast water. From 1 January 2018, after a vessel's first regular scheduled dry docking after this date, or upon delivery on or after this date, a ship specific Biofouling Management Plan and Record Book consistent with the requirements of the IMO Biofouling Guidelines must be carried onboard and the vessel’s wetted surfaces managed in accordance with the plan.