News 13 Dec, 2013

MARPOL – United States Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area

Members are reminded that in July 2011 the 62nd Session of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI by Resolution MEPC.202(62), establishing the United States Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area (ECA).

The new ECA will enter into force on 1 January 2014 and covers waters under the jurisdiction of the United States surrounding Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, extending approximately 50 nautical miles from the coast.  Waters subject to the jurisdiction of other adjacent countries are not affected. The geographical limits of the US Caribbean Sea ECA can be found in MEPC.1/Circ.755 “Information on the United States Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area under MARPOL Annex VI”.

Under MARPOL Annex VI, vessels may comply with the more stringent sulphur oxide (SOx) and particulate matter (PM) emission regulations that apply within an ECA by using fuel oil with a sulphur content below the prescribed limit of 1.00% m/m. Alternatively, vessels may comply by utilising a “fitting, material, appliance or apparatus” such as exhaust gas cleaning technology, or “Other procedures, alternative fuel oils or compliance methods” such as the on board blending of fuel or the use of dual fuel (gas/liquid). The use of any alternative method other than low sulphur fuel oil is subject to the approval of the vessel’s Flag Administration and must be “at least as effective in terms of emission reductions as that required by this Annex”. From 1 January 2015, the sulphur content of fuel oil used by vessels within ECAs must not exceed 0.10% m/m.

Once the new ECA enters into force, vessels calling at ports falling within US jurisdiction may expect the engine room log book, Oil Record Book, bunker delivery notes, bunker Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and other certification and documentation to be examined during routine Port State Control inspections to verify compliance with the new requirements. It is therefore essential that accurate records are maintained, particularly the specification of the fuel consumed within the ECA and details of fuel switching operations. Further details of how the United States Coast Guard (USCG) is enforcing compliance with ECA requirements can be found in USCG Policy Letter 12-04.

Additional information regarding the US Caribbean Sea ECA can be found in the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fact sheet “Designation of Emission Control Area to Reduce Emissions from Ships in the U.S. Caribbean” and on the EPA’s website: US Caribbean Emission Control Area.

Members requiring further guidance should contact the Loss Prevention department.