The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries introduced the “Special Act on Air Quality Improvement in Port and Other Areas ” on 2 April 2019, enforcing the Act from 1st Jan 2020.
The first stage is a voluntary vessel speed reduction program, which took effect in December 2019.
The speed reduction applies to South Korea's five major ports (Busan, Ulsan, Yeosu, Gwangyang and Incheon). Each area spans 20 nautical miles in radius, measured from a specific lighthouse in each port.
Ships that voluntarily reduce their speed (12 knots for container ships and car-carriers, 10 knots for other ship types) will enjoy discounts at their port entry/leave fees.
From 1 September 2020, vessels at berth or at anchor in the port areas of Incheon, Pyeongtaek and Dangjin, Yeosu and Gwangyang, Busan and Ulsan must burn fuel with a maximum sulphur content of 0.10%.
The changeover to compliant fuel must take place within one hour of arrival and must not change back until within one hour before departure.
Korean sulphur-limiting regulations are likely to be expanded on 1 January 2022, where all vessels must operate on 0.10% S max fuel whenever operating in designated zones around the aforementioned ports – these zones will form the Korean ECA.