Legal Update: US EPA no longer accepting FONARs via their FONAR portal as of 30th June 2019
Members’ attention is drawn to the USCG Marine Safety Bulletin (MSIB) 005-19 introducing a new procedure for ship owners and operators operating in the North American (NA) or US Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area (ECA) to comply with the MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 18.2.4. Ship owners and operators are required under MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 18.2.4 to notify the competent authority of the vessel’s inability to acquire sufficient MARPOL Annex VI compliant fuel oil at a foreign or U.S. port prior to arriving in the area.
The USCG is now the competent authority to receive all notifications related to fuel oil non-availability and is responsible for enforcement action (including vessel detention) in cases of non-compliance. The USCG will investigate all reports of non-compliance with MARPOL Annex VI to determine what actions may be warranted. Such actions may range from completing the investigation with no follow-on action, detaining the vessel, and/or pursuing civil penalties. The USCG may also refer the matter to EPA.
There is no specific format* for the notification. However, consistent with MARPOL Annex VI, Regulation 18.2.1, the ship owner or operator should be prepared to present a record of the actions taken to achieve compliance, including evidence that they attempted to purchase compliant fuel oil in accordance with the vessel’s voyage plan.
Ship owners and operators are reminded that the sulfur content of any fuel oil used onboard ships within the NA or U.S. Caribbean Sea ECAs will not change when the worldwide sulfur cap is reduced on January 1, 2020.
*Until the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopts a FONAR, it is suggested that ships use the format provided in the Annex to PPR 6/8/2 ("Consistent Implementation of Regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI: Proposed Template to report compliant fuel oil non-availability.”