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Ships to be monitored for sulphur emissions as of January

12/16/14, 4:00 PM

The Finnish Government has adopted new regulations that have transposed the European Sulphur Directive into Finnish legislation on 11 December 2014. Inspections on the sulphur content of marine fuel are consequently due to begin on board ships on 1 January 2015.

The competent authorities responsible for monitoring compliance with the European Sulphur Directive and the underlying decision from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in Finland are the Finnish Transport Safety Agency and the Finnish Border Guard.

“Monitoring compliance with sulphur regulations is extremely important in order to ensure equitable operating conditions for everyone, and to prevent any distortion of competition. This is why the Finnish Transport Safety Agency is investing more and more in disseminating information about the new requirements and in supervising compliance with the regulations”, says Tuomas Routa, Director-General of the Maritime Sector at the Finnish Transport Safety Agency.

“We have complemented our traditional sampling programme with new approaches in order to increase the efficiency of our supervisory work. For example, we are about to launch a new remote monitoring system, which will allow us to monitor ship emissions across the entire northern section of the Baltic Sea. International cooperation and exchange of information also play important roles in our day-to-day work and our efforts to target inspections at the most high-risk ships”, explains Director of the Inspections Division Juha-Matti Korsi.

The new inspections will be risk-based, which means that inspections will be targeted at ships that are considered to pose a higher risk due to issues such as their history and previous inspections. Cooperation among the national competent authorities and risk-based supervision allow the State’s limited resources to be put to optimal use.

The inspections will be carried out by the Finnish Transport Safety Agency’s port state control officers, who will also be trained and authorised to carry out supervisory duties under the European Sulphur Directive.

Intensive inspection campaign to initiate supervision

A nationwide intensive inspection campaign relating to the European Sulphur Directive will be mounted during the first half of 2015. EU Member States have also agreed that ship personnel will be provided with information about the new regulations and their implications. A large number of ships will be inspected during the campaign, and fuel samples will be taken in order to establish sulphur content.

“It is important to have proper sanctions in place so that our supervisory work has a real impact. We believe that shipping companies operate responsibly, but we must be proactive to stop those who are trying to benefit at the expense of others”, says Routa. “Only by complying with the sulphur content limits imposed in the Directive will we be able to achieve the positive effects on our nation’s health and well-being that the new sulphur regulations are all about.”

Opportunities for Finnish businesses

The Finnish Transport Safety Agency believes that the European Sulphur Directive and the underlying IMO decision also open up new opportunities for Finnish businesses in the form of different kinds of innovations.

“The market will continue to grow as the IMO’s MARPOL Convention takes effect across the EU and probably globally as well in 2020. Finnish businesses need to look at this development as an opportunity for the future”, says Routa.

The European Sulphur Directive and the latest version of the MARPOL Convention’s provisions on the prevention of air pollution from ships were enacted in Finland by the amendment (998/2014) of the Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport (1672/2009).

Further information:
Tuomas Routa, Director-General, Maritime Sector, tel. +358 29 534 6456, tuomas.routa(at)trafi.fi, Twitter @TuomasRouta
Juha-Matti Korsi, Director, Inspections Division, tel. +358 29 534 6437, juha.korsi(at)trafi.fi