In the autumn of 2008, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed on the progressive reduction of maximum Sulphur content in the fuel used onboard. On January 1, 2015 the limit applicable in Emission Control Areas (ECA's) was reduced to 0.1%. The IMO also approved the cleaning of exhaust gas to reduce emissions to the same extent.
Already on January 1, 2010, the EU implemented the requirement that ships may only burn fuel of 0.1% sulphur content or less when they are inside EU ports or within EU inland waterways.
On July 1, 2010 this requirement was extended offshore into ECA's, which include the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
*ECA's include the Baltic and North seas, the English Channel and the US and Canadian coast and inland waters.
*MARPOL Annex VI sets limits on Sulphur Oxide and Nitrogen Oxide emissions from the ship exhaust and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances. It also contains provisions allowing special SOx Emission Control Areas (SECAS) to be established with more stringent controls on sulphur emissions.