IMO adopts 200-mile North American Emissions Control Area

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Earlier today, the International Maritime Organization announced the establishment of an Emissions Control Area (ECA) to prevent pollution from ships in waters off North American coasts. Today’s announcement reflects an amendment to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and its adoption proposed by the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency along with sister agencies from Canada and France.

Map of North American Emissions Control Area adopted by the International Maritime Organization. (Illustration courtesy of U.S. EPA)
Map of North American Emissions Control Area adopted by the International Maritime Organization. (Illustration courtesy of U.S. EPA)

The ECA – which will extend 200 nautical miles from Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, Canada, French territories in North America, and the eight main Hawaiian Islands requires ships to dramatically reduce the emission of air pollutants and is expected to significantly improve air quality and resultant public health for hundreds of miles inland. Under the new international standard, ships will be expected to minimize their emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and fine particulate matter (PM).

According to the Coast Guard’s Jeffrey Lantz, the leader of the American delegation to the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, “Today’s decision is a positive step that the U.S., our Canadian and French co-sponsors, and the greater international community are taking to further reduce the effects on the environment from the commercial shipping industry.”

The ECA will go into effect in 2011 and will become legally binding and enforceable in 2012.

Mr. Lantz goes on to say, “We appreciate the commitment from both our government and industry partners who showed today that environmental stewardship is a common goal in the maritime community.”

Click here for more information on the Designation of North American Emission Control Area to Reduce Emissions from Ships.

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