The International Maritime Organization on Friday approved an Emissions Control Area for the waters off the United States and Canada. It’s the first ECA in the world that the IMO approved under Annex VI of Marpol, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.
The ECA extends up to 200 nautical miles into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and also into the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean. Inside the zone, ships will be required to burn low-sulfur fuels to reduce the emission of particulate matter and sulfur and nitrous oxides.
“We’re extremely happy,” said Budd Darr, deputy chief of maritime and international law for the Coast Guard. “This convention is an important component of our long-term strategy to regulate vessel emissions.”
Congress passed legislation in 2008 to approve Annex VI of the Marpol convention. The Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency led the federal government’s effort to put the ECA into effect. The emissions-control regime also has the support of the World Shipping Council.
Darr said that the IMO’s approval process will determine when the ECA takes effect. The process includes a period of time to allow IMO members to object to changes in the convention.
Because of the built-in delay, the Coast Guard does not have an enforcement date for the ECA, but it’s likely to be in 2012.
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