Directive 2005/33 which deals with sulphur content of marine
fuel demonstrates the increasing regulation regarding ship
emissions and more stringent control for ship owners within the
EU. Annex VI (Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution
from Ships) under the MARPOL Convention has been incorporated
into Irish law.
Annex VI limits sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions and prohibits
deliberate emissions of ozone-depleting substances and sets the
maximum sulphur content of fuel oil at 4.5% by mass (m/m).
Annex VI introduced the SOx Emission Control Area (SECA).
Currently only one SECA has been established in the Baltic Sea,
however the North Sea SECA is to be implemented by November
2007. The sulphur content of fuel oil used in a SECA must not
exceed 1.5% m/m.
2. Sea Pollution Act 1991
The Sea Pollution Act, 1991 (the "Act") as amended
now refers throughout to "substances subject to
control by Annex VI to the MARPOL Convention" thus
importing Annex VI into the existing legislative framework.
Notification is now required from the owner or master of any
ship where prescribed substances are loaded or unloaded may be
required and incidents involving such substances must be
officially reported. Ship masters have to keep records of
operations on board regarding these substances.
Ships may be surveyed, inspected or tested by ship-surveyors
or inspectors appointed under the Act and a certificate of
compliance will issue providing everything is in order. Once
this certificate issues no further changes can be made to the
ship's fittings, structure or equipment without official
consent, the exception being where there is replacement of
Inspectors are given wide-ranging powers under the Act, and
these include the right to board a ship at any time to inspect
all machinery, equipment and fittings and the right to inspect
and require production of any document. It is an offence to
obstruct or impede inspectors in the exercise of their duties
or to fail to comply with their requirements. Harbour-Masters
are also accorded similar powers.
If an inspector is satisfied that a ship's condition
does not comply with its compliance certificate (or equivalent
issued by another MARPOL state) or is unfit to be put to sea
without threatening the marine environment he can direct the
master to undertake all necessary repairs and/or modifications.
The inspector has power to detain any ship until such repairs
or modifications are undertaken.