|North American Emission Control Area Source: EPA|
We are eighteen months away from the implementation of new regulations restricting the Sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions of marine fuel in the North American Emission Control Area (ECA). Under the new regulations, effective January 1, 2015, cruise ships operating in the zone must only emit .01% instead of the currently allowed 1% levels. The ECA requirements will become enforceable in the U.S. Caribbean ECA in January 2014.
Complete details can be found in this EPA Briefing.
These low-sulfur fuel requirements could dramatically increase operating costs for the cruise lines and Carnival Cruise Lines has announced deployment changes of several ships as it tries to get ahead of the curve of the new regulations.
Where is the North American ECA
The area of the North American ECA includes waters adjacent to the Pacific coast, the Atlantic/Gulf coast and the eight main Hawaiian Islands. It extends up to 200 nautical miles from coasts of the United States, Canada and the French territories, except that it does not extend into marine areas subject to the sovereignty or jurisdiction of other States.
Carnival Cruise Lines Deployment Changes
The announced redeployments means reduced Atlantic Canada cruises and no ships homeporting out of Baltimore, Boston or Norfolk, Virginia.These are the first announced changes that site the North American ECA and associated fuel costs as the determining factor.
Carnival Cruise Lines and others, including Royal Caribbean, which has ships in the same ports, are working closely with the EPA to find alternative means to reduce the emissions. One possibility is scrubber technology as cited in the letter in the references below.
|Ship / Effective Date||Deployment Changes|
Repositions from Baltimore to Tampa
|Sailed seasonally from Boston or Norfolk; Repositions to Miami|
The cruise lines have held the line on passing fuel surcharges along to consumers. Hopefully they will be able to find an economical solution to protecting the environment.
April 2013 CLIA Position on North American ECA
The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) made the following statement earlier this year:
"CLIA supports the goals and principles of the North American Emission Control Area (ECA). Our industry is committed to protecting coastal air quality not only because it is the responsible thing to do, but also because the very nature of our business depends on a healthy natural environment. We are proud of the environmental stewardship of our member lines and their proactive response to applicable international and Federal air emissions requirements wherever their ships operate."
They, along with the IMO, have proposed the following:
"The industry supports a variety of flexible approaches that can be utilized to achieve equal or better health benefits, including averaging based on air quality, innovative exhaust scrubbers, using alternative energy sources such as shore power in port, and adjusting ship speeds." [Full article]
EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality web site
Designation of Emission Control Area to Reduce Emissions from Ships in the U.S. Caribbean
Designation of North American Emission Control Area to Reduce Emissions from Ships (PDF)
Letter to IMO from EPA and U.S Coast Guard regarding equivalent methods to comply with the ECA fuel sulfur requirements (PDF)
We will continue to monitor this developing story. It is unfortunate that Carnival Cruise Lines has made these changes, but hopefully they will be able to return to these homeports in the future.