26 March 2010

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) today officially accepted the proposal to designate waters off the North American coasts as an Emission Control Area (ECA). Large ships that operate in ECAs must use cleaner fuel and cleaner engine technology, leading to major air quality and public health benefits in the coastal areas. The ECA, proposed in March 2009, was adopted by the IMO in the fastest possible timetable.

The ECA, jointly proposed by the United States and Canada, extends up to 200 nautical miles along most of the US and Canadian coasts. 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. This is the first ECA adopted under the 2008 amendments to IMO MARPOL Annex VI treaty that strengthened and expanded both the ECA emission standards and the approval criteria.

Enforcing the ECA standards will reduce sulfur content in fuel to 1% effective August 2010, and to 0.1% from 2015. Also, Tier III NOx emission standards, requiring advanced emission controls such as SCR systems, will have to be met in the ECA from 2016. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) harmonized its fuel and emission requirements for marine Category 3 engines with the IMO ECA regulations.

Source: US EPA