MCA suspends sulphur compliance checks

The UK port authority has suspended sulphur cap compliance checks in all UK ports as part of its coronavirus containment measures.

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has suspended routine port state control inspections, which include enforcing the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) global 0.5pc sulphur cap.

Routine inspections of compliance with the 0.1pc sulphur-capped Emission Control Areas (ECAs) have also been suspended. The North Sea and English Channel ECAs cover most of the UK’s east and south coasts, while the west coast is not covered by any 0.1pc sulphur ECAs and so is 0.5pc sulphur-capped.

The MCA will continue to monitor vessels that call at UK ports and inspect vessels if information it receives suggests inspections are warranted. The MCA could not say how long the routine port state control inspections will be suspended, but said it is operating in line with UK government guidance.

Port states such as the UK only have the right to inspect vessels in their own coastal waters, which stretch 200 nautical miles out from their coasts. Beyond that, flag states are responsible for ensuring compliance with the sulphur regulations.

The IMO lacks an enforcement regime, meaning port authorities are the most likely enforcement agents. Port authorities must check and retain records of bunker deliveries and approvals for exhaust scrubbers. Vessels with scrubbers fitted are allowed to burn 3.5pc sulphur fuel since the IMO’s 0.5pc sulphur cap came into effect on 1 January.

By Erik Hoffmann

Source: Argus Media (US) website