Environmental Groups Call for Mediterranean ECA

MEPC 73 courtesy of the IMO

By The Maritime Executive 10-24-2018 07:37:39

On Tuesday, France presented the results of its impact assessment of a possible emission control area (ECA) in the Mediterranean Sea indicating that a combined ECA which addresses both sulfur and nitrogen oxides would have the greatest positive effect in reducing air pollution and bringing socio-economic and ecological benefits. 

For sulfur, an ECA would set limits of 0.1 percent, less than than the planned global sulphur cap of 0.5 percent globally from 2020 and the current level of 3.5 percent. The possible ECA would be the fifth one designated after the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the North American area and the United States Caribbean Sea area.

The Germany-based environmental organization NABU welcomed the report and renewed its call for the immediate designation of all European waters and particularly the Mediterranean Sea as an ECA.

Sönke Diesener, transport policy officer at NABU, said: “The results are unambiguous; an ECA would result in cleaner and healthier air for the residents in Mediterranean countries. Moreover, the effects for the economy will be positive. Every day, six to 10 thousand ships are operating in the region while they burn toxic heavy fuel oil. Now we need the cooperation of littoral states to facilitate a Mediterranean ECA at the IMO.”

Charlotte Lepitre, health policy officer at France Nature Environment, also welcomed the assessment, saying that the North Sea ECA has provided improved air quality for that region, and none of the industry’s horror stories of poor fuel availability or service and company shut downs became a reality following its introduction.

The impact assessment was presented by France at the IMO during a side event of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting. The full report will officially be published in the next few days. The European Commission and the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) are currently also commissioning respective studies to assess the impact of ECAs in the Mediterranean Sea. As a next step, a coalition of Mediterranean countries would have to submit an application to MEPC calling for the ECA.