On 15 December 2022 the 79th session
of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection
Committee (MEPC 79) adopted the Mediterranean Sea Emission Control Area for
Sulphur Oxides and Particulate Matter (Med SOx ECA), with effect from 1 May
2025, to further limit air pollution from ships, pursuant to Annex VI to the
International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
Mediterranean Sea has thus become the fifth area worldwide to be designated as
an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides and Particulate Matter.
three facts illustrating the importance of Med SOx ECA in the Mediterranean and
Tailwind to greener shipping in the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea is home to some of the busiest maritime routes in the world,
supporting 20 per cent of seaborne trade.
comes into effect on 1 May 2025, ships operating in Med SOx ECA will be
required to comply with a limit for sulphur content in fuel oil that is a fifth
of the legal limit outside this area (0.10 per cent mass by mass (m/m),
compared with 0.50 per cent m/m allowed outside Med SOx ECA).
this achievement secured, the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention system will direct
its attention to Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), another type of air pollutants emitted
by ships, and will continue to support
IMO’s work on the decarbonization of international shipping.
Considerable benefits for people and nature
ECA will translate into a 78.7 per cent drop in SOx emissions and an annual
reduction of 8.5 million tonnes of SOx released into the atmosphere. In
addition, emissions of Particulate Matter (PM 2.5) will be slashed by 23.7 per
levels of pollutants will benefit aquatic and land ecosystems, notably by
Environmental multilateralism at its best
acted as a forum for the intergovernmental negotiations on the Med SOx ECA and
catalysed progress at the regional level, including through the scientific and
technical support provided by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response
Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) and the Plan Bleu Regional Activity
The next step will be for UNEP/MAP to
join forces with IMO and REMPEC to secure the ratification of MARPOL Annex VI
by the six Mediterranean countries that have not yet done so. Securing this ratification by 1 May
2024 is required to ensure the uniform and effective application of Med SOx ECA
when it comes into force on 1 May 2025