On August 1, 2012, the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) was implemented off the coastal waters of Canada and the United States.  The ECA extends 200 nautical miles offshore and requires all ships operating within the this area to use fuel with a sulphur content of 0.1% or less.




  • The application to establish a North American Emissions Control Area (ECA), was filed by the governments of the United States, Canada and France to the International Maritime Organisation in March 2009. The application is consistent with amendments to an IMO protocol known as MARPOL Annex VI. The ECA application was approved by IMO at the 60th meeting of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC60) in March 2010.

  • It should be noted that in both the US and Canada, there is no expectation or requirement to consume diesel or distillate fuel in order to comply with the low sulphur fuel standards.
  • A comparison of Global and ECA low sulphur implementation dates as approved by IMO is as per below, however the 2020 Global date is subject to a review of low sulphur fuel availability to be conducted by 2018. Should it be concluded that the 2020 date connot be met, there is provision for push back to 2025 but not beyond.

Visit our files and downloads page to view the regulatory documents pertaining to Transport Canada's Ship Safety Bulletins on the  folder Emissions Control Area


The Chamber of Shipping is committed to keeping its members informed of developments in the air quality realm which could affect them. Some current activities underway by the Chamber include:

BC Marine Vessel Air Quality Workgroup

Co-chaired by the Chamber of Shipping and Environment Canada, this workgroup facilitates exchange of information and development of coordinated and collaborative policies, programs and actions for air emission inventories related to vessels operating on the coast of British Columbia.

Air Resources Board (ARB - California)

The State of California has introduced several measures in the past decade with the objective of reducing pollution from shipping activity. The State has confirmed that it will not relax its existing law requiring ships to burn low sulphur distillate fuel and steam at a maximum of 12 knots within 24 miles of the state coastline when the Emissions Control Area (ECA) comes into effect on August 1. For those vessels able to carry multiple grades of fuel, this may means a double switch during the approaches to a California port.

European Union (EU)

In November 2002, the European Commission adopted a European Union Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships. A step toward implementing this strategy is Directive 2005/33/EC of the European Parliament and Council. This Directive entered into force on August 11, 2005 and includes the following provisions:

  • An Emissions Control Area in both the Baltic and North Seas effective 2006/07
  • A sulphur in fuel restriction of 0.1% (1,000 ppm) on fuel used by inland vessels and by ocean going vessels at berth in EU ports, beginning January 1, 2010.

The EU has also tabled proposals which would ensure that the Global Standard for sulphur in fuel would not be delayed by the previously mentioned review of global fuel availability in 2018.

GHG Reduction

The Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO is currently working to develop consensus around achieving measurable reductions in GHG from shipping which currently accounts for about 3% of world total. Options currently under consideration include:

  • International Fund – sponsored by Cyprus, Denmark, Marshall Islands, Nigeria and IPTA.
  • Energy Incentive Scheme – sponsored by Japan. Amended version to be submitted to MEPC 64.
  • Reduction of GHG from ships through port State arrangements using the STEEM model – sponsored by Jamaica.
  • Ship Efficiency and Credit Trading – sponsored by USA.
  • Vessel Efficiency Scheme – sponsored by the World Shipping Council.
  • Global Emission Trading Scheme – sponsored by Norway.
  • Global Emission Trading Scheme – sponsored by UK.
  • Further elements of a Global Emission Trading Scheme – sponsored by France.
  • Rebate mechanism reflecting the CBDR principle – IUCN.

Essentially the debate comes down to one of a levy on fuel, some form of cap and trade scheme or emission reduction through regulated targets within defined time lines through the use of existing and yet to be developed technologies. The International Chamber of Shipping has issued a response to comments by the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, who during a speech delivered in June commented that “charges on international aviation and maritime emissions would raise about a quarter of the $100bn needed for climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries — resources that developed countries have committed to mobilize by 2020”. There is significant concern that international transportation is not viewed as a cash cow and that international bodies do not adopt a “tax on trade” with the unintended consequences that may flow from such a move.


Links to Related Websites:

Port Metro Vancouver Eco-Action Program

Prince Rupert Port Authority Green Wave Program

North West Ports Clean Air Strategy

Green Marine