What are the governing legislations/scheme?
The relevant governing legislations and government schemes relating to shipping emissions are:
(1) Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation (Cap 311AA);
(2) Section 50 of the Shipping and Port Control Ordinance (“Cap 313”) and Section 51 of Merchant Shipping (Local Vessels) Ordinance (“Cap 548”);
(3) Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Air Pollution) Regulation (Cap 413M); and
(4) Port Facilities and Light Dues Incentive Scheme for Ocean Going Vessels (Extended Incentive Scheme).
How does it control emission?
These five legislations/schemes aim to control shipping emissions in Hong Kong in a number of different ways. Legislation have been enacted to control sulphur content in fuel oil, prohibiting deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances and vessels from using non-compliance fuel during the berthing period.
Vessels emitting dark smoke, darker than a certain shade of the Micro-Ringelmann Chart will now also be a criminal offence and masters, owners and owners’ agents may be prosecuted.
Besides enacting legislation, the Hong Kong Government has introduced an incentive scheme offering discount on port fees for vessels that switch to fuels with less sulphur content at berth.
Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Air Pollution) Regulation (Cap 413M) will soon be replaced by Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Air Pollution) Regulation, (Cap 413P) to implement the amendments to Annex VI of the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. The new regulation will be in force in 1 July 2016 and a further article on the differences between the old and new regulations will be available in due course.
What are the defences or exceptions?
The legislations above provide a range of different defences for those charged with using non-compliant fuel, for example if that the vessel was in an emergency situation that did not permit it to comply with the Regulation at the time of the contravention. It is also generally a defence for the person charged to show that he had taken all reasonable steps to prevent the commission of the offence.
The Authority may also exempt a vessel from fuel requirements in a number of circumstances such as if compliance will pose a risk to the safety of the vessel. However, all exceptions are granted and renewed entirely at the discretion of the authority in charge.
What are the sanctions?
In the event of non-compliance of any of the regulations mentioned above, masters, owners of vessels and/or owners’ agents can all be liable for a fine ranging from HKD 10,000 to HKD 200,000 depending on the regulation and seriousness of breach. It is also possible for them to face imprisonment of up to 3 months.
Authorities responsible includes the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department, Marine Department and the Hong Kong Police.
For more information on how your vessel can comply with the regulations above, whether your vessel falls within the exceptions or what defences are available to you, please contact us and we will be happy to answer any queries you may have.