From 2025 all ships transiting through Malta shall switch to cleaner fuels

December 16, 2022 11:25 pm

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on Friday formally adopted a proposal for the designation of the Mediterranean Sea as a Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA). The adoption of this pollution prevention measure means that all ships transiting through the Mediterranean Sea shall be required to use cleaner fuels of a lower Sulphur content to reduce their toxic emissions. BirdLife Malta along with its German BirdLife Partner NABU (BirdLife Germany) and a number of Mediterranean partners have been lobbying for this measure, which is a first step towards cleaner shipping in the Mediterranean. The designation will take effect from 1st May 2025.

BirdLife Malta welcomes establishment of Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) in the Mediterranean Sea as first step towards cleaner shipping

Air pollution control and environmental protection play a special role in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the busiest water bodies in the world. The IMO decision to designate the Mediterranean Sea as a Sulphur Emission Control Area is a crucial and long-awaited step towards cleaner air in the whole region. Shipping air pollution can represent up to 40% of all Mediterranean coastal cities’ air pollution, being a significant threat to human health, environment and climate. Therefore, BirdLife Malta warmly welcomes a shift to cleaner fuels for ships which will lead to an improved air quality for people living in Malta and all 150 million people from around the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean Sea will become a Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) from 2025 (Photo by Alexandr Krushlinsky)

Although we do appreciate the willingness of the Mediterranean countries to upgrade the shipping sector by establishing the SECA, it is vital to continue the work in this direction through designating also an Emission Control Area (ECA) for Nitrogen (NECA) which is one of the key contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, being also harmful to human health and the environment. Such a combined ECA like the one operating in the North and the Baltic Sea would further improve air quality, thus saving hundreds of lives in the Mediterranean annually, increasing sustainability of the shipping sector and also boosting the necessary shift towards climate-friendly fuels. The marine traffic around Malta is getting only more intense each year, hence the combined ECA is an absolute must if we want to protect our health and the environment. Therefore, we call on the Maltese decision-makers to not lose the momentum and take action by strongly supporting the establishment of the NECA (Nitrogen ECA) in the Mediterranean as the next priority.

We also call on the Maltese authorities to step up the drive to climate-friendly and clean shipping, being such an influential partner at IMO and in the midst of one of the busiest shipping routes in the world. Advocating for a Nitrogen Emission Control Area, finalising the shore-to-ship electricity supply at the Grand Harbour as well as considering the electrification of ferry systems are amongst the measures.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.