HELCOM sets a course for the Baltic Sea NECA
On the 10th of March, 2016, the Annual Meeting of the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) saw the finalization of a Roadmap, which sets in motion plans to submit to the IMO a proposal for a Baltic Sea NOx Emission Control Area (NECA) in accordance to the IMO MARPOL Convention Annex VI. The proposal will be presented alongside a similar one, designed for the North Sea area, at the IMO MEPC 70 meeting, scheduled to be held next autumn.
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions pose a serious threat to the Baltic Sea ecosystem and when it comes to airborne deposition of nitrogen, shipping is one of the main perpetrators. According to Helcom, a Baltic Sea NECA would contribute significantly to the reduction of nitrogen discharge in the area, promising to reduce the nitrogen pollution by up to 7,000 tons per year.
If accepted at IMO level, the NECA would enable the Baltic Sea countries to exceed the HELCOM Country Allocated Reduction Target (CART), which they agreed upon in 2007. Shipping in the Baltic Sea accounts for over 13,000 tons of airborne nitrogen deposition, nearly matching the total contribution of land based airborne pollution in countries like Russia or Sweden. Up until now only two NECAs have been designated, located in the North America and United States Caribbean Sea. Their implementation is planned for this year.
Bogdan Ołdakowski, BPO Secretary General, commenting on the HELCOM decision, said: “The NECA regulation is aimed at reducing the nitrogen input to the Baltic and we support all efforts protecting the Baltic Sea environment. It will not be a dramatic cost for maritime transport imposed overnight, as it concerns only new ships, but in the longer term, with fleet renewal taking place in the Baltic in the next 10-20 years, it will have an impact on maritime transport costs. Moreover, NECA is another piece of legislation, which is Baltic (and North Sea) specific. With its unquestioned goal to protect Baltic Sea environment, it contributes to unfair market conditions for maritime transport in the Baltic region compared to other regions in the EU. BPO is of the opinion that the same rules should be applied in all of the EU.“
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The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention. www.helcom.fi