Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) & North American/Caribbean Emission Control Areas (ECA)
MARPOL Annex VI entered into force on 19 May 2005. Regulations 14 and 18 define the method of controlling Sulphur Oxide (SOx) emissions on a global basis and in defined protected areas called Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs or ECAs).
The aim of the legislation is to reduce SOx emissions from ships to reduce the acidification of the atmosphere and the resulting acid rain. This is to be achieved by setting a limit on the sulphur content in marine fuels.
Marpol Annex VI, Regulation 14 requires the following:
•A limit on the sulphur content on any fuel used onboard ship, this must not exceed 4.5% m/m.
•The sulphur content on any fuel used onboard a ship operating in a SECA must not exceed 1.5% m/m.
•Alternatively, an exhaust gas cleaning system or other approved technological method of reducing total SOx emissions from main and auxiliary engines and boilers to a maximum of 6.0g SOx /kWh when operating in a SECA. Controls are also set on effluent discharges from such cleaning systems.
•Details of the change over operation from high sulphur fuel to low sulphur fuel when entering a SECA are to be recorded in a log book and also when changing over to high sulphur fuel when leaving a SECA for an uncontrolled area. The procedure is to ensure that all fuels exceeding the 1.5% sulphur limit are flushed out of the fuel system prior to entering a SECA.
Marpol Annex VI, Regulation 18 establishes requirements for the quality, sampling and delivery of fuel oil and the keeping of bunker delivery note records.
On March 26, 2010, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) amended the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) designating specific portions of U.S., Canadian and French waters as an Emission Control Area (ECA). The proposal for ECA designation was introduced by the U.S. and Canada, reflecting common interests, shared geography and interrelated economies. In July 2009, France joined as a co-proposer on behalf of its island territories of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, which form an archipelago off the coast of Newfoundland. The North American ECA became enforceable in August 2012.
Californian regulations, originally introduced in 2009, require that ocean going vessels burn distillate fuel, either marine gas oil with a maximum 1.5% sulphur or marine diesel oil with a maximum 0.5% sulphur within 24 miles of the coast.
These areas were extended on July 15, 2011 to include coastal waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as an Emission Control Area (ECA). The US Caribbean ECA became enforceable in January 2014.
ECA Areas in China
In December of 2015, the Chinese government indicated that ECA areas would be established covering three areas of China's coastline (the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Bohai Rim). Certain ports within these areas may impose fuel requirements on vessels. From 2017 onwards, fuel requirements apply to all ports within the areas. These ECA areas will be added to those already represented in the Online Distance Tables, and in PortToPort, in an upcoming release of the Distance Tables.
(S)ECA Areas in force to date
1. Baltic Sea – came into force on 19 May 2005
2. North Sea and English Channel – came into force on 11 August 2007
3. US East Coast – came into force on 1st August 2012
4. US West Coast – came into force on 1st August 2012
5. Hawaiian Islands - came into force on 1st August 2012
6. California - came into force on 1st August 2012
7. Caribbean (Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands) - came into force in January 2014