Consultation begins on treaty to reduce air pollution in ports and harbours

The Ministry of Transport is seeking public and sector input into a decision on whether New Zealand should sign up to an international treaty restricting air emissions from ships.

Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) regulates emissions harmful to public health and the environment. The emissions also deplete the ozone layer and contribute to climate change.

“The benefits of signing up to Annex XI include reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality around our ports. It would align our maritime regulations with our trading partners, and give investment certainty to domestic ship owners and fuel suppliers,” Ministry of Transport Manager International Connections Tom Forster says.

Annex VI reduces air emissions by controlling the sulphur content of fuel. Domestic and international ships entering New Zealand waters meet the current Annex VI standards of 3.5 percent sulphur content. Marine fuel produced here is also under 3.5 percent.

From 2020 the standard required by MARPOL is likely to drop to 0.5 percent.

“The vast majority of our domestic ships use diesel fuel which complies to both standards – the ships directly impacted will be ferries, and large trading and fishing vessels.”

“However, before a decision is made we need a true understanding of both the costs and benefits to our environment and our economic sectors.

“Regardless of whether New Zealand accedes to Annex VI there will be an impact. New Zealand ships will need to be compliant if visiting an overseas port that is party to the treaty, this includes Singapore and Australia where many of our ships receive maintenance and repairs.

“Fuel that meets the requirements will also need to be available to overseas ships flagged to Annex VI states, this would include the majority of international ships that come here.

“We recognise many in the shipping and fuel sectors are looking for certainty and have been waiting for some time for a decision to be made on New Zealand’s commitment to MARPOL Annex VI. Consultation will provide us with an opportunity to provide this,” Mr Forster says.

Consultation page