News 15 Jun, 2012

MARPOL - North American Emission Control Area

Members are reminded that in March 2010 at the 60th Session of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC), IMO adopted Resolution MEPC.190(60) which established a North American Emission Control Area (ECA) via an amendment to Annex VI of MARPOL.

The North American ECA is due to enter into force on 1 August 2012. However, Canada has elected to delay implementation of the requirements until the end of November 2012, although an exact date has yet to be set.

The new ECA covers the Pacific, Mexican Gulf and Atlantic coasts of North America and extends 200 nautical miles offshore from the United States and Canada. It also covers the eight main Hawaiian Islands, and the French territories off Newfoundland. Areas subject to the jurisdiction of other countries are not affected.

The geographical limits of the North American ECA can be found in Appendix VII of MARPOL Annex VI and MEPC.1/Circ.723 “Information on North American Emission Control Area (ECA) under MARPOL Annex VI”. Further details can be found on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website under the heading “Designation of North American Emission Control Area”.

Under MARPOL Annex VI, vessels may comply with the more stringent sulphur oxide (SOx) and particulate matter (PM) emission regulations within the ECA by using fuel oil with a sulphur content below the prescribed limit of 1.00% m/m, or by utilising a “fitting, material, appliance or apparatus” such as exhaust gas cleaning technology. “Other procedures, alternative fuel oils or compliance methods” such as the on board blending of fuel or the use of dual fuel (gas/liquid) may also be used, but such methods are 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”.

In the case of vessels visiting Californian ports the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Ocean Going Vessel (OGV) Fuel Rule already applies within 24 nautical miles of the Californian coast. However, on 1 August 2012 the sulphur limit for Marine Gas Oil (MGO) will reduce to 1.0% m/m in accordance with MARPOL Annex VI. CARB’s existing sulphur limit of 0.5% m/m for Marine Diesel Oil (MDO) will continue unchanged.

Vessels sailing within United States waters covered by the ECA must comply with the new regulatory requirements from the 1 August 2012 onwards. Vessels sailing within Canadian waters covered by the ECA must comply with the new requirements from late November 2012. However, pending the introduction of the new air emission standards, Transport Canada will continue to enforce the Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemical Regulations.

Once the new ECA regulations enter into force, vessels calling at ports in North America may expect the engine room log book, Oil Record Book, bunker delivery notes, bunker Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and other 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.

Although a US Caribbean Sea ECA surrounding Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands was designated by IMO in July 2011, it will not become effective until 1 January 2014.

Members requiring further guidance should contact the Loss Prevention department.