Exceeding the limit for sulphur emissions from fuels may be currently punishable by fine or imprisonment under the Criminal Code, but this system is inefficient because none of the four violations detected in inspections have led to bringing of charges, Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications said.
In order to complement the system, the Ministry now announced a fee amounting the minimum of 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, the Ministry stressed.
This is part of an overall reform in the country’s environmental regulation, aiming, among others, 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. Specifically:
Changes to waste management at marinas
The country’s Directive on vessel waste says all ports should have the facilities to receive waste from vessels using them.
In Finland, places where the structures, services, numbers of users and amounts waste are small in scale have not been considered ports.
Now, the definition of ‘port’ will be updated in accordance with the Directive. 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.
Stricter regulation on the transfer of noxious cargo at sea
In line with MARPOL, the Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport includes provisions on ship-to-ship transfer operations of oil cargo.
In the future, the national regulation would also concern the transfers of biofuels, chemicals, wastes and other types of noxious and hazardous cargo. For instance, the use of 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.
Meanwhile, 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 on the draft legislative proposal by 17 December 2020. 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.