Yachting and the environment
Climate change is an undeniable fact these
days and can be observed throughout the planet. In a lot of regions the weather
is slowly changing and extreme weather conditions seem to be on the rise. Heavy
storms accompanied by intense rain seem to appear more often while in other
regions droughts are causing humanitarian crises.
The reasons for this rapid change are
manifold, but without a doubt most of the triggers for climate change are manmade.
The International Maritime Organization
(IMO) realized early on that ships play a major role in the global climate
change and started discussions on how to achieve a greener foot print for all
kinds of ships including yachts with the introduction of the first MARPOL
Regulation in 1978. Regular meetings of IMO committees make sure that the
regulations are revised and extended regularly to reflect the latest
developments in technology and environment. That is why these meetings let to a
variety of new regulations for ships that already came into force recently or
will be enforced in the near future and which will bring changes to the
For us as a software company we have to
react to the changing legislations and adjust our software to reflect the new
regulations. That is why we are preparing the implementation of new information
fields and functions to help you to comply with the new regulations for the
second half of 2019.
We want to take the opportunity to have a
brief look at the most important regulations for yachts and on maritime
initiatives aiming to make the world a greener place.
The Polar Code and other regulations to save special
Based on forecasts that shipping in polar
regions will increase in the coming years due to new shipping routes and
booming tourism IMO was forced to act and design regulations that reflect
special weather and environmental conditions at both poles.
The result of these actions is the latest
addition to environment friendly improvements in shipping: the Polar Code. It
entered into force on 1st January 2017. This new regulation is setting standards
for all ships operating in the arctic and Antarctic regions and has
implications on MARPOL and SOLAS as it covers mandatory measures and
recommendations for safety and pollution prevention.
As already indicated above the Polar Code
takes into account not only the sensitive ecosystems of the arctic regions, but
also the predominant harsh weather conditions that demand special requirements
for humans and machinery. All ships intending to operate in these fragile
ecosystems now must comply with the regulations of the Polar Code and apply for
a Polar Ship Certificate.
So it is no surprise that the Polar Code
touches a wide variety ship operation:
- design and construction of ship
and equipment, e.g. stability, watertight and weather tight integrity
- operational requirements e.g.
creation of a Polar Operational Manual
- training of crew especially for
masters and commanding officers with regards to watch keeping according to STCW
- search and rescue operations
- pollution prevention and oil
- voyage planning and navigation
At the end of the article you will find the
links to the regulations in full.
Air pollution regulations
A major driver for climate change and the
connected warming of earth is air pollution. This includes all kinds of gases
produced by ships through traditional combustions engines primarily used in
That is why IMO tries to reduce emissions in
shipping on several levels. One notable change was the further amendment of
resolution MEPC.176(58) for MARPOL Annex VI (in force since 1st July
2010). The new amendment in resolution MEPC.251(66) states that starting from 1st
January 2020 all ships must comply with SOx control which limits the global
sulphur limit to 0.50% (regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI). Though it gives
exemptions for yachts:
- Yachts solely used for
recreational purposes of less than 500 GT and constructed before 1st
January 2021 do not need to comply with the TIER III requirements.
- Recreational yachts of less than
24 metres will not need to comply with TIER III even after 1st
Another change in Annex VI concerns the
installation of equipment containing ozone-depleting substances. According to
chapter 12 the new installation of such equipment will be prohibited on all
ships constructed on or after 1st January 2020 and on all ships
constructed before 1st January 2020 with equipment deliver on or
These new regulations have to be reflected
in ship’s certificates (generally all ships over 399 GT) and engine
certificates (all engine of more than 130 kW power output.
Another emission control established under
chapter 13 is NOx emission control for special areas like the Baltic Sea and
the North Sea (MEPC.286(71)) that applies also for ships above 24m and below
500 GT. All new ships who want to travel these special areas are required to
have a TIER III engine. Although exceptions for special trips (refits etc.)
apply. A proposal from ICOMIA to mitigate the implementation of emission
control on smaller vessels was rejected in the IMO meeting held from 13.-17.
There are many more regulations coming into
force in the future. The above regulations were only a small selection of them.
Always stay informed by visiting IMO.org.
How can yachts and especially you as a crew help to save
There are numerous initiatives out there who
seek to clean the oceans from all the waste that is constantly produced by our
society. Below you will find a few links that give you an idea on how you can
participate in this process and can support others.
Start changing your everyday life:
- use reusable plastic and avoid
disposable articles, but best would be try to avoid plastic at all
- buy and eat sustainable seafood
- manage your waste and properly
dispose hazardous materials
- try to reduce energy
consumption → reduce CO2 emissions
- do not leave garbage at the
beaches and always collect it
And here are some notable projects you can
support or join:
- The Adventure Scientists: This side tries to involve people in the collection of data for scientific projects at universities and institutes. Look at projects they are offering (present and past) and see if you can participate in the data collection that will help science. A great project from the past was the collection of water sample to investigate the concentration of micro plastics in the oceans
- The Ocean Clean-up Project: Everyone heard about this and similar projects. Although the first testing phase was not a success this project gives hope for the future to maybe clean our oceans.
- Look at organisations like Ocean Conservancy , Oceana , Blue Marine Foundations or The Green Blue (just to name a few) They offer lots of programs and information to protect our oceans.