Danish Shipowners’ Association has called for an international control and enforcement of the new sulphur directive.

The association has warned that ignoring the low-sulphur limits will be unfavourable to both the climate, and to the competitiveness of Danish ships.

Ships sailing in areas such as the North and Baltic Seas and the English Channel have been asked to reduce their sulphur emissions by 90% since January this year to improve air quality.

Danish Shipowners’ Association senior adviser Jesper Stubkjaer said: “Danish shipping companies all agree on the need to protect health and the environment, and therefore support the imposition of new sulphur requirements.

“However, as recently highlighted by the media a key issue regarding the new requirements is enforcement.

“There is a lot of money to be made in circumventing the requirements of the directive, and that makes effective international enforcement crucial.

“Without enforcement, we risk losing the environmental and health related improvements.

“Similarly, law-abiding shipping companies will suffer from unfair competitive disadvantages, and will lose out to those who cheat.

The Danish Shipowners’ Association has been working in collaboration with Danish Environmental Protection Agency since 2007, undertaking projects on measurements of ships’ sulphur emissions from aircraft and bridges with the support from Danish shipowners for Green Shipping.

The association recommends all vessels in all waters to be ready for unannounced sulphur control at any time to reduce the environmental impact.

Jesper Stubkjaer added: “Ships can be subject to sulphur testing when calling a port in Europe (Port State Control), but when ships leave a port in the North or Baltic Sea bound for a port outside Europe, there is no risk of Sulphur inspection.

“Danish shipping companies all agree on the need to protect health and the environment, and therefore support the imposition of new sulphur requirements.”

“It is these vessels in particular that the Danish Shipowners’ Association fears will deliberately bypass the rules.”

In 2008, the UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted the new sulphur requirements.

In 2012, the European Parliament adopted IMO regulations and approved legislation to cut sulphur levels in shipping fuel used by all vessels in EU waters from the current 3.5% to 0.5% by 2020.

In April this year, the EU, through a delegated act, adopted requirements for control measures in relation to sulphur in marine fuel followed by the regulation that one in ten ships that call at European ports will be subject to a sulphur inspection.

Image: Denmark is among those taking the lead in implementing the new sulphur directive. Photo: courtesy of Danish Shipowners’ Association.