Climate Change and Yachting?

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 shipping industry.

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 regions

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:

  1. design and construction of ship and equipment, e.g. stability, watertight and weather tight integrity
    1. operational requirements e.g. creation of a Polar Operational Manual
    1. training of crew especially for masters and commanding officers with regards to watch keeping according to STCW
    1. search and rescue operations
    1. pollution prevention and oil handling
    1. 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 shipping.

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 January 2021.

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 after 01.01.2020.

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. May 2019.

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

How can yachts and especially you as a crew help to save the environment?

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.

IMO Links