As of Aug. 1, 2012, stricter rules took effect for sulfur emissions from ships sailing off the coasts of Canada and the United States. These requirements are part of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) effort to reduce the incidence of sulfur emissions in the North American Emission Control Area (ECA).
Sulfur emissions contribute to atmospheric levels of sulfur dioxide, a major pollutant long known to be harmful to the environment.
The IMO was responsible for drafting Marpol: the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Under Marpol’s Annex VI, sulfur emissions limits for the Sulfur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) are designated as 1 percent by weight until Dec. 31, 2014. The limit will then decline to 0.1 percent on Jan. 1, 2015.