Numerous ISO standards support the goals of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) World Maritime Day, which recognizes the shipping industry’s contribution to trade and development. ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden commented: “ISO standards constitute an important technical complement to different areas of IMO’s work. That is why ISO cooperates closely with IMO to develop standards that support IMO requirements and regulations, while carefully avoiding any overlap. Together, ISO and IMO provide a strong concerted contribution to ensuring a cleaner and sustainable marine environment – a goal that is at the heart of World Maritime Day.”

This year the theme of the day responds to today’s pervasive concern with environmental change. One of ISO’s most well-known contributions in this area is the generic ISO 14000 series on environmental management standards that are implemented in all areas of activity, including the maritime sector.

Due to its far reaching scope, ISO impacts on the environmental performance of the maritime industry from a variety of angles, both directly and indirectly. Some examples belonging to several technical committees include freight containers, oil and oil platforms, paints and varnish for ships, refueling, ships and marine technology, transport of dangerous goods, water quality testing for pollution, etc. Currently, in close coordination with IMO, ISO is also developing a number of standards to provide solutions for specific marine environmental problems.  

Among the most recent initiatives is the development of the ISO 30000 series of standards on ship recycling management systems. This work will support and supplement the IMO/International Labour Organization/ Basel Convention Working Group and the IMO Ship recycling Convention and regulations. IMO Secretary-General, Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, states in his World Maritime Day message: “The issue of ship recycling has also become a growing concern, not only from the environmental point of view, but also with regard to the occupational health and safety of workers in the industry.”

ISO 30000 will apply to the recycling of all types and sizes of ships, in both international and domestic trade, and be developed with the cooperation of international organizations including the IMO and the World Trade Organization. Among the potential issues the series will address are the scrapping of hazardous materials and requirements for recycling facilities. The standards will be compatible with ISO 9001 (quality management systems), ISO 14001 and ISO 28000 (security in the global supply chain). Capt. Charles Piersall, Chair ISO technical committee ISO/TC 8, Ships and marine technology, is confident that “ISO 30000 will assist in uniform industry implementation of IMO requirements, increase transparency, facilitate trade, provide a clear reference for the industry and constitute a valuable risk assessment tool".

In his World Maritime Day message, Mr. Mitropoulos mentions that of all modes of transport, shipping is the least environmentally damaging when its productive value is taken into consideration. However, adequate preventive measures are needed to limit damaging impacts on the environment caused by incidents such as oil spillages. For that reason, ISO/TC8 develops, in cooperation with IMO, standards on materials, equipment and technologies to reduce marine pollution, as well as on environmental protection procedures to be used in the building and operation of vessels.

Some examples of ISO work on marine environmental protection are its recent projects to develop standards to improve the environmental performance of ships in harbours (AWI 29501), ballast water management (discharge sampling procedures), reducing SOx emissions and reducing NOx emissions, as well as already published standards such as ISO 13617 on incinerators to destroy garbage and other shipboard wastes, and ISO 16446 on oil spill booms.  

ISO/TC 8 is the technical committee responsible for ISO initiatives specific to the shipping industry and overall ISO liaison with IMO. ISO/TC 8 works in close partnership with many international organizations, and has more than 100 items in its work programme in support of IMO. Several other ISO technical committees also produce contributions of interest for the maritime industry.