New Developments in MARPOL Annex VI Compliance and Implementation

Jeanne M. Grasso, Jonathan K. Waldron, and Dana S. Merkel

 

The International Maritime Organization (“IMO”), in preparing for the global 0.5 percent fuel oil sulfur limit, recently adopted an amendment to MARPOL Annex VI to support consistent implementation and enforcement of the new requirement. At the same time, the IMO rejected a proposal for an “experience building phase” during the first months of implementation. This put to rest any rumors of a delay in implementation. Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard published procedures by which owners may seek authorization to operate engines that do not meet MARPOL Annex VI NOx Tier III requirements for qualified vessels.

New Developments

The IMO adopted an amendment to support consistent implementation of the forthcoming 0.5 percent limit on sulfur in ships fuel oil on October 26, 2018, during the recent session of its Marine Environment Protection Committee (“MEPC 73”). This amendment, effective on March 1, 2020, prohibits the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil for use on the vessel unless the vessel is outfitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system, often referred to as a scrubber. The amendment does not alter the January 1, 2020 implementation date for the 0.5 percent sulfur limit.

Also related to MARPOL Annex VI, the U.S. Coast Guard published an enforcement Work Instruction formally addressing how the U.S. Coast Guard will enforce the Annex VI nitrogen oxides (“NOx”) Tier III standards within the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea Emission Control Areas (“ECAs”). See Exercise of Enforcement Discretion with Regard to MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 13.5.1.2; CVC-WI-014(1) (October 17, 2018). Because engines meeting the NOx Tier III standards were largely unavailable after the Tier III standards took effect in 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard is allowing impacted vessels to instead be certified as meeting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Clean Air Act Tier 3 requirements pursuant to 40 C.F.R. Part 1042. Once individually recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, such engines may be used indefinitely, even after NOx Tier III compliant engines become available.

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U.S. Coast Guard Publishes Final Rule That Increases the Marine Casualty Reporting Thresholds

Jeanne M. Grasso, Jonathan K. Waldron, and Sean T. Pribyl

 

 

 

On March 19, 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard published its long-awaited final rule on Marine Casualty Reporting Property Damage Thresholds. In what was widely viewed as a common-sense and non-controversial adjustment, the final rule amends the monetary property damage threshold amounts for reporting a marine casualty and serious marine incidents (“SMI”). These amended thresholds ease the reporting burdens for industry stakeholders and also reduce the administrative burden on the U.S. Coast Guard associated with investigating these incidents.

Marine Casualty Reporting Requirements

Generally, when a marine casualty or accident occurs on navigable waters (within 12 nautical miles), or involving a U.S.-flag vessel wherever it is operating, the owner, operator, master, or person in charge of the vessel involved may have an obligation to immediately report it to the U.S. Coast Guard. Not all marine casualties are reportable, as such reporting is dependent on the type of incident, e.g., grounding, allision, loss of propulsion, injury requiring professional medical treatment, or property damage, and whether the damage meets property damage thresholds. U.S. Coast Guard regulations consider a marine casualty to be reportable when it meets distinct criteria, and has therefore developed regulations that define reporting thresholds and the manner of reporting a marine casualty or an SMI, which also requires drug and alcohol testing. See 46 CFR Subpart 4. Continue reading “U.S. Coast Guard Publishes Final Rule That Increases the Marine Casualty Reporting Thresholds”