Marine vessels are one of the major local air pollution emission sources. To reduce air pollution from the marine sector, we have already introduced marine emission control measures. Since 1 April 2014, a statutory cap of 0.05% on the sulphur content of locally supplied marine light diesel (MLD) has been imposed. Also, ocean-going vessels (OGVs) have been required to switch to compliant fuel while at berth in Hong Kong since 1 July 2015.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) currently allows the sulphur content of bunker fuel to be 3.5% maximum although this will be tightened to 0.5% by 2020. The Government sought to move ahead earlier in Hong Kong. To further improve air quality, we have signed a co-operation agreement with the Mainland on joint efforts to take forward the implementation of a domestic emission control area (DECA) in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region. Starting from 1 January 2019, all vessels except for specified vessel types as set out in the Regulation, are required to use compliant fuel within Hong Kong waters, irrespective of whether they are sailing or berthing.
Prohibition of Use of Non-Compliant Fuel
The prohibition applies to vessels within the waters of Hong Kong. During its stay in the waters of Hong Kong, a vessel is prohibited from using any fuel other than compliant fuel for combustion purposes for operating any of its specified machinery, which includes the main engine, auxiliary engine, boiler and generator.
Compliant fuel required by the Regulation includes low-sulphur marine fuel with sulphur content not exceeding 0.5%, liquefied natural gas or any other fuel approved by the Director of Environmental Protection.
A vessel may be exempted from using compliant fuel if that vessel uses technology which can reduce SO2 reduction at least as effectively as using low sulphur marine fuel or the compliance with the fuel requirement will pose a risk to the safety of the vessel.
Application for exemption must be in writing in a specified form with supporting documents to the Environmental Protection Department at least 14 days in advance.
Record in Log Book and Document Keeping
The requirement only applies to an ocean going vessel in the waters of Hong Kong. The owner and the master of a vessel must record the following particulars in a log book of the vessel as soon as practicable.
- the date and time when the vessel enters and exits the waters of Hong Kong;
- the date and time when a fuel switch operation to compliant fuel is completed on the vessel;
- the vessel’s position, and the volume and sulphur content of the compliant fuel carried on the vessel for operating its specified machinery when a fuel switch operation to compliant fuel is completed on the vessel;
- the date and time when a fuel switch operation to non-compliant fuel commences on the vessel; and
- the vessel’s position, and the volume and sulphur content of the compliant fuel carried on the vessel for operating its specified machinery when a fuel switch operation to non-compliant fuel commences on the vessel.
Written procedures for conducting fuel switch operations must be kept on board and the log book and bunker delivery notes must be kept on the vessel for a period of three years for inspection by the enforcement officials.
Penalties for Violating the Regulation
The owner and master concerned of any vessel using non-compliant fuel within the waters of Hong Kong will be liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for six months. Shipmasters and ship owners of OGVs who fail to record or keep the required particulars will also be liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for three months.
Boundary of the Waters of Hong Kong
The Regulation applies to the waters of Hong Kong. The coordinates of the boundary of the Hong Kong waters can be found in the Order of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China No. 221. Please see the document at the following website:
In addition, for the nautical chart of the waters of Hong Kong (HK7501), please read at:
Notification Letters to Marine Trades about the Fuel for Vessels Regulation
For the implementation of the Fuel for Vessels Regulation, we have sent a notification to the concerned marine trades. If you have not received it, you may read the notification letter attached below to understand how the Regulation affects you.
More Information about the Fuel for Vessels Regulation
For provisions of the Air Pollution Control (Fuel for Vessels) Regulation, please visit at Hong Kong e-Legislation (https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/hk/cap311AB). For further information, please contact us at:
Air Policy Group
Environmental Protection Department
33rd Floor, Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: 2838 3111
Fax : 2838 2155