Proposes stricter environmental requirements in the world heritage fjords

  • Published: 31/10/2018 by: Kari Stautland

New legislation intended to reduce emissions and discharges in the world heritage fjords was circulated for review this spring. In order to further reduce the environmental strain in the world heritage fjords, the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) now proposes even stricter regulations. The proposed amendments will be circulated for review today, with a six week deadline for comments.

A cruise ship by berth in the Geirangerfjord, Norway.
The Geirangerfjord is among the Norwegian fjords on the World Heritage List. It is a very popular destination for cruise tourists.
PHOTO: Sjøfartsdirektoratet

In June this year, the NMA circulated for review new legislation for reduced emissions and discharges and a cleaner environment in the Nærøyfjord, Aurlandsfjord, Geirangerfjord, Sunnylvsfjord and Tafjord. The proposal included, among other things, stricter sulphur requirements for the entire area, stricter requirements for NOx emissions, prohibition against the discharge of sewage, regulations on the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems and requirement for an environmental instruction.

Based on the comments received, the NMA is now proposing even stricter requirements in the new legislation.

“The Government wishes to reduce the emissions and discharges from cruise ships. Stricter requirements for ships in the world heritage fjords would be a step in the right direction,” says Minister of Climate and Environment, Ola Elvestuen.

The NMA is now proposing that fuel being used on ships in the world heritage fjords must have a sulphur content of maximum 0.10% by weight. Additionally, a prohibition against the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems in these areas is being proposed, including both open, closed and hybrid systems.

Reduced emissions and discharges

In practice, this means that the use of heavy fuel oil in the world heritage fjords will be banned, and that ships that currently use heavy fuel oil combined with an exhaust gas cleaning system will have to use marine diesel instead when sailing in the world heritage fjords.

“Experience shows that today’s cleaning systems emit visible smoke emissions, and some systems also generate discharges to sea. Even if the visible smoke is partly water vapour, it has a negative impact on people’s experiences of our world heritage fjords,” says Bjørn Pedersen, who is Head of Department of Legislation and International Relations in the NMA. 

The NMA is also proposing a prohibition against incineration of waste on board ships in the world heritage fjords, which will contribute to reducing the visible smoke emissions.

“We have a particular responsibility for taking care of the fjords inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List,” says Pedersen. The new proposal also lays down the possibility of exemption from the Tier I NOx requirements to be met by 2020 for ships that can document that they will satisfy the strictest NOx requirements (Tier III) by 2022, i.e. three years before the deadline.

The proposed regulatory amendments and the consultative document can be found here.

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