Canada: North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) now in force


Published: 22 May 2013

The North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) is now in force in Canada. The Regulations Amending the Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulations, promulgated under the Canada Shipping Act, 20012 were adopted on 18 April 2013 and were published on 8 May 2013.

Main changes are as follows:

  • The maximum sulphur content of ship fuel for Canadian and foreign vessels of 400 gross tons or more is 3.5% from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2019, and then becomes 0.5% as of 1 January 2020; but for vessels operating in the ECA, the sulphur limit is 1.0 % until 1 January 2015, when it will drop to a maximum of 0.1%.
  • Alternatively, vessels may adopt fitting technology or alternative fuels or procedures resulting in equivalent reductions in emissions.
  • Vessels operating in the ECA after 1 January 2016 must adhere to the IMO’s “Tier III Standards” for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which represent an 80% reduction from current emission standards.
  • Permissible sulphur emissions for Canadian vessels operating on the Great Lakes or on the St. Lawrence will start at a maximum of 1.3% in 2013 and decline progressively on 1 January of each following year, until they reach 0.1% on 1 January 2020.
  • Alternatively, Canadian vessel owners operating on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence may opt for a fleet averaging system, whereby the annual fuel limits of their ships may be exceeded by a maximum cumulative amount of 0.4% before 2017, declining until 2020.
  • Other options include using lower-sulphur fuel or exhaust gas cleaning systems (“scrubbers”) and/or materials and procedures resulting in equivalent emissions to using lower-sulphur fuel.

Information received with thanks from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.