Legislation on the management of vessel waste in ports tightened – comments invited
Environmental legislation concerning maritime transport is being reformed. The aim is to improve the reception and treatment of waste in ports, which will reduce the generation of marine litter and discharge of plastics into the seas. The process also includes updating the Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport and the regulation concerning vessel safety. The Ministry of Transport and Communications requests comments on the draft legislative proposal by 17 December 2020.
The Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport will be amended to fulfil the requirements set in the revised Directive (EU) 2019/883) on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships. The proposed amendments concern, in particular, small ports such as marinas for recreational craft and fishing ports as well as ports used by connecting ferries and water buses.
Changes especially to waste management at marinas
According to the Directive on vessel waste, all ports should have the facilities to receive waste from vessels using them. The definition of ‘port’ will be updated in accordance with the Directive. In Finland, places where the structures, services, numbers of users and amounts waste are small in scale have not been considered ports. According to the new definition, ‘port’ would mean a place or geographical area that is equipped for the reception of ships. The most significant change is that the waste collection obligation would be extended to coastal marinas with less than 50 berths, which are not covered by the present regulation.
The key points in the draft act with respect to the reception of vessel waste
1. Piers of private homes and holiday homes, jointly-owned shores and connecting piers of holiday homes have been excluded from the regulation.
2. Waste collection obligation would be extended to marinas with less than 50 berths.
3. The minimum requirement set in the Directive would apply to marinas with less than 25 berths, i.e. they should have the capacity to receive the waste from vessels normally using that port.
4. In inland waters the requirements would only apply to marinas with more than 25 berths.
5. In large guest harbours (≥ 25 berths) mixed waste and sewage should be collected.
6. Home ports should have reception facilities for oily, hazardous and mixed waste and sewage.
7. In the same way as at present, the party managing a marina may conclude a contract on the use of reception facilities located nearby, in which case the marina would not need waste management facilities of its own.
8. The minimum requirement set in the Directive would also apply to ports used by connecting ferries and water buses, i.e. they should have the capacity to receive the waste from vessels normally using that port.
9. Fishing ports are only required to receive mixed waste.
10. All ports should draw up a waste management plan for a period of five years instead of the three-year plans required at present.
11. The enforcement authority, i.e. the municipal environmental protection authority or Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment could impose a negligence fee on a port that does not draw up a waste management plan.
New fee to curb sulphur emissions – more efficient enforcement of oil spills prohibition
At present exceeding the limit for sulphur emissions from fuels may be punishable by fine or imprisonment for violating against environmental protection in maritime transport or environmental offence under the Criminal Code. The system is inefficient because none of the four violations detected in inspections have so much as led to bringing of charges. Now a new fee payable by a vessel if the limit for sulphur emissions is exceeded would be introduced to complement the system under the criminal law. The minimum amount of the fee would be EUR 6,000. The control of fuel suppliers under the Sulphur Directive will also be intensified.
The geographical scope of application of the oil discharge fee would be extended to inland waters. The provisions on how the considerable damage or a risk of such damage that is the condition for the competence of an authority should be assessed would be further specified.
Stricter regulation on the transfer of noxious cargo at sea
In accordance with the MARPOL Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships of the International Maritime Organization IMO, the Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport includes provisions on ship-to-ship transfer operations of oil cargo. In future the national regulation would also concern the transfers of biofuels, chemicals, wastes and other types of noxious and hazardous cargo. The use of e.g. biofuels is growing, which is why the risks associated with their transfers should also be minimised. The transfers would be restricted to specific, designated areas and an advance notification would be required to allow the authorities to interfere with hazardous transfers if considered necessary. The same requirements would apply to ship-to-ship fuel delivery operations in ports or at sea.
The government proposal would also include amendments to be proposed to the Ship Register Act and the Act on the Security of Certain Ships and Associated Port Facilities and on Monitoring Maritime Security prepared as part of an extensive legislative package related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary legislative amendments made in the spring would now become permanent ones. At the same time certain technical amendments would be made to the Ship Register Act and the Act on the Security of Certain Ships and Associated Port Facilities and on Monitoring Maritime Security.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications requests comments by 17 December 2020. The government proposal is to be submitted to Parliament in February 2021.
The amendments to the national legislation required by the Directive on vessel waste must be in force on 28 June 2021. According to the proposal, the amendments would enter into force on 28 June 2021, except for certain transitional provisions concerning the organisation of waste management. The amendments to the Ship Register Act and the Act on the Security of Certain Ships and Associated Port Facilities and on Monitoring Maritime Security would enter into force on 1 April 2021.
Laura Sarlin, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 50 447 7597, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @SarlinLaura
Päivi Antikainen, Director of Unit, tel. +358 50 382 7101, email@example.com, Twitter @PaiviAntikainen