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What are Emission Control Areas?

An application for designating a sea area as an Emission Control Area (ECA) must be approved by the Parties to Annex VI. ECAs may be designated for sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM), or nitrogen oxides (NOx), or all three types of emissions, subject to a proposal from an IMO member country.
Annex VI originally set a limit of 1.50 percent sulphur for marine fuel oil used by ships sailing in designated Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs). 

The revised Annex VI lowered the sulphur limit in SECAs to 1.00 percent from July 2010 and to 0.10 percent as from 2015. The Baltic Sea was the first SECA to enter into force in 2006, followed by the North Sea (including the English Channel) in 2007. In March 2010, the IMO officially designated waters extending 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from the coast of the United States and Canada as the first “full” ECA, i.e. covering SOx, PM and NOx. The decision entered into force from August 2011 and the stricter sulphur limits became effective from August 2012.

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