Ghana Maritime Authority to enforce IMO’s 0.50% Sulphur cap law Jan. 2020

About 570, 000 premature deaths relating to respiratory and other health complications from ship emissions could occur, between now and 2025, if Ships continue to use fuel with the current 3.5 percent Sulphur content.

The International Maritime Organization, IMO has thus decided to place a compulsory 0.50% sulphur cap on marine fuel from 2020, a decision which is arguably said to be one of the industry’s most defining moments since the shift away from coal.

Ghana Martime Authority with the Ghana Shippers Authority is sensitizing operators in the maritime industry on the essence of the 0.50 percent cap on Sulphur content in marine fuel.

According to the IMO’s wbsite the main type of “bunker” oil for ships is heavy fuel oil, derived as a residue from crude oil distillation. Crude oil contains sulphur which, following combustion in the engine, ends up in ship emissions. Sulphur oxides (SOx) are known to be harmful to human health, causing respiratory symptoms and lung disease. In the atmosphere, SOx can lead to acid rain, which can harm crops, forests and aquatic species, and contributes to the acidification of the oceans hence limiting SOx emissions from ships will improve air quality and protects the environment.

From 1 January 2020, the limit for sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships operating outside designated emission control areas will be reduced to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass). This will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxides emanating from ships and should have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts.

Older vessels however are expected to put up strategic management plans to avoid excess pollution and other effects on aquatic lives.

The SDGs 13, 14 and 3 under the UN 2030 agenda enjoins member countries to pay attention to issues on global warming through the adaptation strategies and progressive programming to save the environment

At one of the engagements in Takoradi, the third in the series of a nationwide stakeholder sensitization on the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2020 Sulphur Cap Regulation, the Director – General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Thomas K. Alonsi, indicated Ghana’s preparedness to ensure enforcement to this directive saying the current 3.5 percent level had been ascertained to acidify “our” oceans hence when reduced it would make life better for all, “ As a regulatory body we will be doing the enforcement, we expect that ship owners and ship operators will be complaint by ensuring that they use fuel that is 0.5”.

The Maritime Authority Boss further said “ we are making them aware that this is what is expected of them, we will start our inspections come next year and make sure that this new regulation is complied with as far as ships that ply our oceans and territorial waters are concerned”.

“Ship owners and operators who flout the 0.50% sulphur cap on marine fuel from 2020 will be sanctioned” said Mr. Alonsi.

Mrs. Benonita Bismarck, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority, GSA said the sensitization had become important for Industry Stakeholders to catch up on key global industry issues that had the ability to change the face of the industry and the impact of IMO 2020 Sulphur cap regulations on shipping costs.

She added that “reducing the Sulphur content in gasoline enables advanced emission controls and reduces air pollution meanwhile, over the years; environmental concerns on harmful emissions from ships caused by the presence of Sulphur in fuel have heightened”.

“The implementation of the IMO 2020 regulation and the planned response by the shipping lines is likely to result in higher freight rates for all category of shipments and this is where the Shippers Authority comes in” noting that “with fuel costs already representing more than 50 percent of total operating expenses, the implementation of the IMO 2020 Sulphur Cap Regulations will pose an increase too significant for carriers and cargo owners to absorb and stay operational”.

Sustainable shipping was key to ensuring that the environment is protected while providing the goods and services for human consumption adding, “The cost of climate change on humankind is quite tragic hence the need for urgent attention to protect the climate.” She said preparing for the ramifications that came with the implementation would ensure that collectively the unintended consequences on the industry were well managed.

The Authority, she said would therefore continue to provide up to date shipping related information on shippers on the ShippersApp to make available and accessible trade and transport information.

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