US adopts new rules to curb pollution by new superyachts

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — Effective Jan. 1 all large newly built vessels, including private superyachts, traveling in U.S. or Canadian waters will require marine diesel engines that drastically reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

The new regulations, which come into force on Jan. 1, 2016, apply to all vessels over 79 feet in length, with a gross tonnage of 500 tons or more, engines more than 130 kW and with a keel-laid date on or after Jan. 1, 2016.

While environmentalists praised the new regulations, which reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 74 percent over present standards, some yacht builders suggest that these regulations represent a “doomsday” scenario for their industry.

The new nitrogen oxide emissions rules were agreed to at the 66th meeting of the International Marine Organization’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee in 2014.

However a lobbying campaign by some boat builders — who feared the new environmental regulation threatened their industry because the engine rooms of some super yachts were too small to accommodate the equipment needed to convert polluting nitrogen oxides into nitrogen and water— stalled adoption of the proposed regulation by the International Maritime Organization.

Because of the standoff at the IMO, the U.S. opted to impose its own unilateral rules, which apply only to vessels which are traveling in the North American Emission Control Area (United States and Canada) and the U.S. Caribbean Sea ECA (around Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Emission Control Areas are sea areas that have been granted special status based upon their proven need to reduce emissions from nitrogen oxides or sulfur oxides from ships. 

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