Revised Prevention of Pollution from Ships Act in force
Date of publication: 16.01.2015

Beginning of year 2015 saw entry into force of the revised Polish Prevention of Pollution from Ships Act. The amendments to the Act were introduced in order to implement the provisions of 2012/33/UE Directive on the sulphur content of marine fuels (known as the EU sulphur directive) into Polish law.

The revised law contains also a reference to the 2001 International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships (the AFS Convention) which was signed by Poland in 2004, and entered into force on 17 September 2008.

The amended Prevention of Pollution from Ships Act allows Poland to fulfil the stringent requirements introduced by the revised Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), with regards to the sulphur content in marine fuels used in vessels navigating European waters. In accordance with these new, stricter regulations, from 1 January 2015 on, all vessels sailing through the Emission Control Areas (ECA), which include i.a. the Baltic and the North Sea area, should use marine fuel with sulphur content not exceeding 0.1%. Until now, this level was set at a 1.00% mark.

The above means that shipowners will be forced to either use marine fuel that meets the new criteria, i.e. has a lower sulphur content or, alternatively, they might resort to other means by which admissible levels of SOx and particulate matter emission control, both outside and inside ECA, may be achieved (emission reduction methods).

According to provisions of the Prevention of Pollution from Ships Act, these can be applied to vessels flying either Polish flag or foreign-state flags sailing Polish waters. The methods  might range from utilising a particular device, system or material that aids in reducing the emissions, to introducing new procedures, alternative fuel or other methods ensuring reduction of the sulphur oxides emitted to the atmosphere. This, among other things, could mean that shipowners might wish to consider using LNG fuel-powered engines, equipping the ships with scrubbers etc., instead of switching to less sulphur-heavy marine fuel.
The minimum requirements that should be met while employing various methods of reduction of sulphur oxide emissions have been laid out in the Council Directive 1999/32/EC of 26 April 1999 relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels and amending Directive 93/12/EEC.

As stated above, the new, stricter rules regarding SOx emisions have been introduced by the revised Annex VI of MARPOL Convention, in particular its Regulation 14. These new amendments have been adopted in October 2008 and entered into force on July 2010.

The Emission Controlled Areas established  are:

- Baltic Sea area – as defined in Annex I of MARPOL (SOx only);
- North Sea area – as defined in Annex V of MARPOL (SOx only);
- North American area – as defined in Appendix VII of Annex VI of MARPOL (SOx, NOx and PM);
- United States Caribbean Sea area (expected to enter into effect 1 January 2014) – as defined in Appendix VII of Annex VI of MARPOL (SOx, NOx and PM).

Piotr Rosicki - Solicitor
Aleksandra Kołoło – Trainee Solicitor

„Rosicki, Grudziński & Co.” Law Firm

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