411 - 04/05 - MARPOL Air Pollution Regulations


The United Kingdom has acceded to the 1997 Protocol which provides for the establishment of International Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships by adding a new Annex VI to MARPOL 73/78.  The Protocol will enter into force in the United Kingdom and other countries that have ratified the protocol (see IMO website) on 19 May 2005 in accordance with Article 6 of the Protocol.

Annex VI comprises 19 regulations and includes a Technical Code on the Control of Emissions of Nitrogen Oxides from Marine Diesel Engines (NOx Technical Code). The Regulations deal with:

  • Ozone depleting substances;
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from marine diesel engines;
  • Sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from marine diesel engines as a consequence of quality of fuel used (sulphur content);
  • Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from tankers in ports or terminals;
  • Shipboard incineration of ship generated waste;
  • Reception facilities in ports to receive ozone depleting substances from ships;
  • Fuel oil quality delivered to and used on board ships; and
  • Compliance requirements where applicable for offshore platforms and drilling rigs.

MARPOL Annex VI sets limits on sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ship exhausts and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances. The annex includes a global cap of 4.5% m/m on the sulphur content of fuel oil and calls on IMO to monitor the worldwide average sulphur content of fuel once the Protocol comes into force.

Annex VI contains provisions allowing for special SOx Emission Control Areas (SECAS) to be established with more stringent controls on sulphur emissions. In these areas, the sulphur content of fuel oil used onboard ships must not exceed 1.5% m/m. Alternatively, ships must fit an exhaust gas cleaning system or use any other technological method to limit SOx emissions. The Baltic Sea Area is designated as a SOx Emission Control area in the Protocol.

Members are urged to refer to the article 'New limits on sulphur in marine fuels' in the latest edition of the UK Club circular loss prevention news, which explains the regulations and provides advice to shipowners on implementing the regulations onboard ship.

Source of information:

Loss Prevention Department

UK P&I Club



Staff Author