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Why Has The Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) Regulation Been Put Into Place & Who Is Affected?

Posted by Liam Harrison on 03-May-2019 14:10:33

Why Has The Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) Regulation Been Put Into Place & Who Is Affected

Rarely a day goes by when we don’t hear about the increasing pollution in our towns and cities caused by the exhausts of vans, buses and HGVs. In an effort to reduce this pollution, congestion charges have been introduced and legal vehicle emission limits lowered. Greater numbers of cutting-edge gas, electric and hybrid vehicles are being introduced, all in an effort to reduce global warming and our country’s carbon footprint.

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These charges and harmful emissions regulations have had a direct impact on European logistics, changing the way many businesses operate. One of the most influential developments for UK-Scandinavian trade is the Sulphur Emission Control Area, put in place to limit oceanic and atmospheric pollution from commercial shipping.

Defining SECA

Apart from plastic waste, we don’t hear much about the increasing volume of pollution at sea. Over 52,000 merchant ships transport 90% of the world’s produce and materials from one country to another. Coastal steamers to bulk carriers, tankers to container ships, plus ferries and cruise liners sail the seas and oceans spouting vast quantities of sulphur into the atmosphere - at least, until 2015. In that year, Emission Control Areas (ECAs) came into being. Any shipping sailing in the affected areas now must reduce their vessels’ exhaust sulphur emissions down to just 0.1% or face heavy fines.

Where Are The SECAs?

The seas affected by these regulations are; The English Channel, The North Sea, The Baltic, The North American coastline including Canada, The Caribbean Sea, and the waters around Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

To meet these regulations, shipping owners had to begin using less polluting fuels, change the vessel’s type of propulsion, or add exhaust filters to reduce sulphur pollution. Unfortunately, the additional cost gets passed on to shipping companies, who are then forced to make a surcharge to their clients to remain competitive. However, the good news is, these changes came into effect three years ago. Any shipping using UK waters and the North Sea, no matter where registered, will now be subject to these regulations, and consequently all shipping companies are on a level playing field. At NTEX we work with some of the world’s most modern and efficient shipping fleets to ensure that we are doing our bit to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.

Will Brexit Affect SECA Regulations?

The final Brexit deal is unlikely to make any difference to shipping costs or environmental regulations – which are largely internationalised. All pollution-saving measures affecting the North Sea and English Channel, including SECA, will undoubtedly stay in force. At NTEX, we respond to the latest pollution control measures and take every effort to reduce the environmental impact of our logistics services, while shielding our customers from the financial burden of new legislation as much as possible. To find out more about our environmental policy, please call 01469 571910, or email

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