Launch of the video on the Med SOx ECA – Sep 03, 2021

The Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) is delighted to officially launch the video on the designation of the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides (Med SOx ECA) pursuant to MARPOL Annex VI, developed within the framework of the Barcelona Convention.

This video is essentially aimed at raising awareness and informing of the on-going process. It should enable to better understand the maritime context of the Mediterranean region, as well as the impact of Sulphur Oxides (SOx) and Particulate Matters emitted from ships on human health and the environment.

Statement by Mr Gabino Gonzalez, Head of Office of REMPEC

I take the opportunity of the launch of the video to express my appreciation and gratitude to all those involved in this wonderful initiative, primarily experts from the 21 Mediterranean coastal States and the European Union, who have jointly elaborated, under the leadership of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) and the support of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and its Components (MED POL and Plan Bleu), the various studies and knowledge gathering that led to the draft joint and coordinated proposal for the designation of the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides (the so-called “Med SOx ECA”), which I hope will be considered favourably, next week, by the Meeting of the MAP Focal Points, prior to its submission for adoption to the 22nd Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols (COP 22) to be held in Antalya, in December this year.

We are approaching this critical milestone after a long journey, started back in 2005, when the idea of a Med SOx ECA first officially arose in the Regional Strategy for Prevention of and Response to Marine Pollution from Ships for the period 2005-2015, carried on into the Strategy for the period 2016-2021 and, most lately, into the proposed Strategy for the next ten years until 2031.

The adoption in 2019 of a Road Map for a Proposal for the Possible Designation of the Med SOx ECA pursuant to Annex VI to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), within the Framework of the Barcelona Convention, by ALL Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention has reflected the commitment of the entire region to address this initiative. Once again, the 45-year-old MAP-Barcelona Convention System has demonstrated the beauty of this forum where ALL Mediterranean coastal States and the European Union, have sat around the same table sharing their national concerns to overcome, as one region, a challenge with local and regional impacts involving the global maritime community.

Together or in parallel, we generated multiple studies, leading to the same conclusions: a Med SOx ECA would overall bring health and economic benefits to the region, compared to the current 2020 IMO sulphur limit. These studies also confirmed that low-sulphur content fuels and alternative compliance technologies will be available to satisfy the future demands and ensure the transition.

The ratification of MARPOL Annex VI by those countries that have not yet done so, is the next challenge to overcome before the proposed date of entry into force of the Med SOx ECA. In this regard, I call on these governments to accelerate their respective ratification process, which will not only address the Med SOx ECA requirements but also contribute to the implementation of the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from Ships and to the Paris Agreement to respond effectively to climate change. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Government of Albania for its accession earlier this year, becoming the 99th country ratifying MARPOL Annex VI.

Financial resources and mechanisms are in place or in the pipeline, projects are on-going and will emerge to successfully meet the objectives of the Med SOx ECA, its implementation and enforcement, and we will ensure appropriate concertation and cooperation, through the governance mechanism proposed for the implementation of the upcoming Mediterranean Strategy for the Prevention, Preparedness, and Response to Marine Pollution from Ships (2022-2031), which will address 6 main objectives, namely pollution from ships, marine litter, climate change, non-indigenous species, special areas and emission from ships.

Considering these developments, I can say with high confidence, that all tools and resources are in our hands to make the Med SOx ECA a reality and provide generation to come with cleaner air to breath in our beautiful Mediterranean region.

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