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The Protocol of 1997 (MARPOL Annex VI)

The Protocol adopted in 1997 included the new Annex VI of MARPOL, which entered into force on 19 May 2005.

MARPOL Annex VI sets limits on sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ship exhausts and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances. The annex includes a global cap of 4.5% m/m on the sulphur content of fuel oil and calls on IMO to monitor the worldwide average sulphur content of fuel.

Annex VI contains provisions allowing for special SOx Emission Control Areas (SECAs) to be established with more stringent controls on sulphur emissions. In these areas, the sulphur content of fuel oil used onboard ships must not exceed 1.5% m/m. Alternatively, ships must fit an exhaust gas cleaning system or use any other technological method to limit SOx emissions. The Baltic Sea Area is designated as a SOx Emission Control area in the Protocol. The North Sea was adopted as SOx Emission Control Area in July 2005.

Annex VI prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances, which include halons and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). New installations containing ozone-depleting substances are prohibited on all ships. But new installations containing hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are permitted until 1 January 2020.

Annex VI also sets limits on emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from diesel engines. A mandatory NOx Technical Code, which defines how this shall be done, was adopted by the Conference under the cover of Resolution 2.  The Annex also prohibits the incineration onboard ship of certain products, such as contaminated packaging materials and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).