International Environmental Standards and Regulations

International Maritime Organization

The IMO is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution of ships. Staff members from the Office of Environment serve as technical experts on the U.S. Delegation to IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in five significant areas:

  • Ballast water management/hull biofouling
  • Vessel air emissions
  • Climate change
  • Ship recycling
  • Arctic transportation
  • Ship radiated noise

In each of these areas, Office staff provide the Department of State, the U.S. Coast Guard, and sister federal agencies with expert knowledge of commercial maritime transportation practices and practical and appropriate approaches to achieving economically sound measures to improve environmental stewardship.

International Organization for Standardization

The Office of Environment has also undertaken efforts within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop technical industry standards and guidelines to further the development and deployment of technologies and practices to reduce environmental impacts of marine transportation operations.

Specifically, staff members serve as subject matter experts (as well as Secretariat) to the ISO Technical Committee 8 (TC8) (Ships and marine technology) Subcommittee 2 (SC2) (Marine environment protection), which has an important role in establishing International Standards that can have a positive impact on the environment during all phases in the life of a ship.

One of TC8’s functions is to assist the marine community in implementing many of the regulations/conventions adopted by the IMO. Much of SC2’s work is directed toward implementing challenging aspects of environmental regulations.