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IMO addresses ship-source air pollution in the Mediterranean

19 Dec 2018

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) on 11-13 December held a regional workshop at the headquarters of REMPEC, the IMO-administered pollution emergency response centre in the Mediterranean, to discuss the effective implementation of MARPOL Annex VI air pollution and energy efficiency regulations.

Participants from 16 Mediterranean coastal States (including six which have not yet ratified MARPOL Annex VI), the European Union, IMO, HELCOM (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – Helsinki Commission) and a local NGO identified the main obstacles to ratification and effective implementation and explored possibilities for (sub)regional application and enforcement of the Annex VI provisions in the Mediterranean.

Participants also discussed the draft technical and feasibility study, commissioned by REMPEC, to examine the possibility of designating the Mediterranean Sea or parts thereof, as sulphur oxides (SOx) emission control area (ECA) under MARPOL Annex VI. A Mediterranean ECA would imply a reduction to 0.1% m/m for the sulphur content of fuel oil used on board ships in the area. 

Two other studies commissioned by the European Commission and France were also presented.

Although the studies applied different data sources and methodologies, all presented similar results: A Mediterranean ECA would result in significant health and environmental benefits, fewer cases of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and premature deaths avoided annually and favourable cost effectiveness comparison for costs and health benefits. The outcome of the workshop and studies will support the Mediterranean decision-making process to define the way forward. This will be set out in a road map, which will be further discussed by the SOx ECA(s) Technical Committee of Experts in spring 2019.

The workshop was supported by IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP), the Mediterranean Trust Fund (MTF) and a voluntary contribution from the Government of France.

Related: Barcelona joins support for creation of Mediterranean Sea ECA
RelatedMediterranean ECA to be further discussed in December
RelatedMEPC 37: France pushes for ECA in the Mediterranean Sea
RelatedIMO: Mediterranean ECA study underway

Photo credit: International Maritime Organization
Published: 19 December, 2018

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