The IMO are still in the process of developing a fuel oil non-availability report (FONAR) system in order to assist ships in their Regulation 18 declarations to state parties concerning the steps to be taken when a vessel is found not to be compliant. A final template for this is expected to be submitted to and approved by the IMO in May 2019. The Emission Control Areas (ECAs) that are included in IMO’s attempts to reduce shipping sulphur emissions, are located in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, North America and the United States Caribbean Sea.
Up to now, IMO hasn’t established fines or sanctions for non-compliance with their regulations. On the other hand, individual state signatories will be responsible for administering what they believe can be addressed as penalties.
Moreover, regulation 18 of Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention provides the factor that could be taken into consideration by parties in conditions where a vessel is found not to be compliant with the sulphur limits.
The factors also include steps to be taken by the ship to mitigate the risk of non-compliance. In particular, a ship may provide records of its attempts to achieve compliance with the limits, and evidence of its best efforts to obtain compliant fuel.
In addition, state parties shouldn’t demand from a ship to deviate from its intended voyage, while the vessel itself is not expected to undue delays in order to achieve compliance.
Also, the parties should make attempts to promote the availability of compliant fuel oils.
A FONAR system is already used from August 1, 2012, in North America ECA.
Based on N. America’s FONAR system, the USCG published Q&As explaining ways by which the ECA will be enforced.
- Vessels are required to demonstrate compliance though logbooks recording the fuel in each tank, any fuel changeover operations, and any delivery notes. These are to be inspected by the Coast Guard during routine port state control inspections.
In comparison, EPA supports that despite the efforts, it’s not always possible to obtain compliant fuel oil. In this case, the authority has to take ‘the proper action’, meaning that it has the chance to take any actions, whatsoever.
Also, when the vessel is aware that it’s to be non-compliant, the it has to notify the US Government and provide a FONAR detailing all efforts taken to obtain compliant fuel oil.
According to the guidance report released by the EPA, this should include information such as:
- the ship’s name, flag, and IMO number
- the ship’s voyage plan at the time of entry into the North American ECA
- when the ship first received notice it would be conducting a voyage involving transit in the North American ECA, and its location when it first received such notice
- the date and time the ship operator expects to enter and exit the North American ECA, as well as the projected days on which the ship’s main propulsion engines will be in operation
- the sulphur content of the fuel oil used when entering and operating in the North American ECA
- a description of the actions taken to attempt to achieve compliance prior to entering the North American ECA
- a description of why compliant fuel oil was not available
- in cases of fuel oil supply disruption, the name of the port at which the vessel was scheduled to receive compliant fuel oil and the name of the fuel oil supplier that is now reporting the non-availability of compliant fuel oil
- any operational constraints preventing use of compliant fuel oil
- availability of compliant fuel oil at first port of call in the US, and plans to obtain that fuel oil
- if compliant oil is not available in the US, then the lowest sulphur content of the available fuel oil.
The Standard Club states that they expect to see if IMO will issue a guidance note relating to the FONAR system and what similarities it could have to the already existent system in the US.