IRI participates in Europe-Korea Conference 2019

1 August 2019

Earlier this month IRI’s Elizabeth Bouchard, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Administration presented at the 2019 Europe-Korea Conference on Science and Technology (EKC 2019) in Vienna, Austria. Speaking on the Maritime Safety & Environment panel, Liz presented on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) and Shipping.

BBNJ is a legally-binding instrument currently being negotiated at the United Nations. It is intended to fall under and fill the gaps in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by regulating the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in the high seas. First convened in 2017, negotiations are expected to be completed in 2020. BBNJ has the potential to impact shipping. The impacts include rerouting vessels to avoid marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments for certain high seas activities, and vessel identification and tracking as an enforcement tool. Feeding into the negotiations are conversations on ship hull and propeller redesign to abate acoustic pollution as well as the need to not undermine existing relevant legal instruments and frameworks and relevant global, regional, and sectorial bodies such as the International Maritime Organization and International Seabed Authority. Oceans science is the basis of BBNJ regulation, making it of interest to scientists, marine biologists, conservationists as well as the maritime industry, governmental bodies, and regulatory authorities.

In her presentation Liz addressed the four thematic clusters in the BBNJ negotiations: Marine Genetic Resources (MGRs); Area-based Management Tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs); Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs); and capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology. The panel was convened by Dr. Dong (Thomas) Nam of Lloyd’s Register who also addressed Regulatory Compliance from Marine to Offshore. Dr. Yongwon Lee, of Lloyd’s Register, spoke on Hydroelasticity in Ship Design.

In response to the presentation, the audience asked how BBNJ would affect the IMO Ballast Water Convention and the 2020 sulphur cap. Liz noted that although no direct affect may be understood, BBNJ is a shift to regulating the global Blue Economy, not just specific sectors.

The EKC, now in its 12th year, is a platform designed to facilitate the exchange of ideas and information between governments, academia, and private sectors in Europe and Korea.