On 1 March, new environmental requirements for emissions and discharges in the world heritage fjords the Nærøyfjord, Aurlandsfjord, Geirangerfjord, Sunnylvsfjord and Tafjord entered into force. The Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) has given their first notice of a violation fine as a result of the new rules.

On 16 April, the NMA received notes of concern about smoke emissions from the Bahamas-registered cruise ship the Magellan, which was berthed in Flåm. These were followed up by an inspection on board when the ship arrived at Geiranger the next day. The NMA surveyors measured the sulphur content of the ship’s fuel to be 0.17 %. In the world heritage fjords, the maximum allowed sulphur content is 0.10 %.

Entered two world heritage fjords

Tracking of the vessel's AIS signal shows that the vessel made ports of call at both Eidfjord and Flåm in the days preceding the port of call at Geiranger. Both of these ports are located within the North Sea ECA. The ship came to Eidfjord from Tilbury in the UK, where it left port on 13 April.

“Our documentation shows that the ships has entered two world heritage fjords with sulphur values far beyond the legal limit values,” says Bjørn Pedersen, Head of Department of Legislation and International Relations in the NMA.

The extent of the violation is significant in this case, where a ship has sailed a considerable distance within the emission control area using a fuel with an excessive sulphur content. Furthermore, as an aggravating factor, emphasis is put on the fact that the new rules concerning the world heritage fjords were violated. Overall, this implies that violation fines at a historic high level are imposed on the company. 

More inspections

In 2019, the main focus area for the NMA is the inspection of ships, particularly cruise ships in the world heritage fjords. Even though many cruise ship companies have invested in new, modern ships, the world heritage fjords are still being visited by many older ships. The NMA has a clear expectation that the new legislation will be complied with.

“We will have an increased presence in the world heritage fjords in the months to come, and our focus will be on making sure that the new environmental requirements are met,” says Alf Tore Sørheim, Head of Department of Operative Supervision.

“The NMA has made efforts to ensure safe and effective controls of sulphur emissions. Our surveyors are equipped with handheld devices that provide an immediate indication of whether the vessel satisfies the requirements or not. Moreover, we have invested in sensors which can be attached to a drone to detect sulphurous exhaust gases,” Sørheim adds.

About the MS Magellan:

Company: Global Cruise Lines Ltd
Length: 222 metres
Gross tonnage: 46,052
Year of construction: 1983/1985
Flag State: Bahamas