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Emission Control Areas

Emission Control Areas

One of the main drivers for LNG as ship fuel is the introduction of more stringent emissions limits in Emission Control Areas (ECAss overall legislation to reduce the sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions of ocean-going vessels. The legislative requirements are laid down in Annex VI to the MARPOL (Marine Pollution) Convention.


The requirements in ECAs, which include the Baltic Sea, North Sea and North American East and West coasts, are more stringent than the general requirements that apply to other waters.


MARPOL Annex VI: Prevention of air pollution by ships: Emission Control Areas
  Emissions In effect from
Baltic Sea SOx 19 May 2006
North Sea SOx 22 November 2007
North American SOx, NOx 1 August 2012

United States Caribbean Sea ECA

SOx, NOx 1 January 2014


The table lists the different ECAs, the emissions concerned and the date from which ship owners have to comply with the emissions limits. For the level of these emissions limits, see the sections Fuel Sulphur Requirements and NOx emission limits.


Waters within 200 nautical miles of North American coasts and within 50 nautical miles of the coasts of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have been designated under MARPOL Annex VI as SOx Emission Control Areas (SECAs) as well as NOx Emission Control Areas (NECAs). The North Sea and Baltic Sea are designated as a SECA only. Neighbouring countries are investigating the option of making this a NECA as well.


In the future, other areas might also be designated as an ECA. The map below shows the existing ECAs, as well as the areas most likely to acquire this status in the years ahead.


Recently, IMO adopted amendments to the MARPOL Annex VI regulations on NOx emissions concerning the date for implementing Tier III standards within ECAs, laying down that ships built on or after January 1, 2016, must comply with NOx Tier III standards when operating in the North American ECA or the U.S. Caribbean Sea.


The NOx Tier III regulation will apply to ships constructed on or after the date of adoption by the Marine Environment Protection Committee of any new NECA, or a later date as may be specified in the amendment designating the NOx Tier III emission control area.


Emission Control Areas around the world ( source)


Further reading


Recently, IMO agreed that future in NECAs ships will have to comply with NOx Tier III standards only if they are constructed on or after the date of adoption of the NECA, or a later date as may be specified when designating the new NECA.