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Published on 11/05/2023

The Importance of Emissions Monitoring

The maritime industry has been facing increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact due to international regulations such as Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). This regulation limits the amount of harmful pollutants such as SOx, NOx, and CO2 that ships can emit into the atmosphere. Ship owners must implement effective emissions monitoring practices to comply with these regulations and improve their environmental performance.

What is Emissions Monitoring?

Emissions monitoring measures a ship’s output of pollutants to ensure that it meets the legal requirements set by MARPOL Annex VI. By taking regular readings of a ship’s exhaust gases, operators can monitor their compliance with the regulations and make any necessary changes to reduce emissions. This data is also used to help calculate a ship’s fuel consumption, which can lead to further reductions in cost savings and emissions over time.

Negative Environmental Impacts

Vessels that fail to monitor their emissions negatively impact air quality, climate change, and ocean acidification. These emissions harm the environment and threaten the health of marine life, ecosystems and human health.

Air pollution is a primary concern from vessel emissions. According to the US EPA, harmful air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) contribute to human respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The problem is exacerbated near ports where ships dock and unload cargo. This puts a significant population at risk of breathing in these toxic emissions for hours.

In addition, climate change is being heavily influenced by vessel emissions. The International Energy Agency noted that CO2 emissions from international shipping increased by 146% between 1990-2019. The implications of continued high levels of greenhouse gas emissions will have catastrophic impacts on our planet, including sea level rise, increased temperatures, and extreme weather events. These environmental changes can also lead to a steady loss of biodiversity, with different species unable to adapt to the changes in their environment.

Furthermore, ocean acidification is another major issue caused by vessel emissions. When ships produce sulfur emissions, they react with water vapour in the atmosphere to create sulfuric acid, which then falls into the ocean and contributes to ocean acidification. This process, in turn, makes it difficult for marine life, such as crustaceans, molluscs, and corals, to form their shells.

Marine ecosystems and wildlife are also affected by vessel emissions. The pollutants that enter water and air from vessel emissions can harm marine organisms, leading to drastic ecological changes. Ocean mammals such as whales, dolphins, and seals are particularly vulnerable to noise pollution and ship strikes.

The solution to these disastrous impacts requires the implementation of regulations for measuring, reporting, and verifying (MRV) maritime transport emissions. This will ensure the shipping industry takes steps to reduce emissions and contributes to global efforts to protect the environment. Additionally, new greener energy sources such as electric, hydrogen, or biofuels can help reduce the most significant pollutants vessels produce.

In conclusion, action must be taken immediately to regulate these emissions, promoting the implementation of more efficient energy sources and ultimately protecting our planet for future generations.

The Martek Solution

At Martek Marine, we offer Evolution EMS, a comprehensive solution for emissions monitoring that provides real-time data on emissions from all exhaust sources on board a ship. This data is transmitted to the bridge, where it can be monitored and analysed, allowing for quick and informed decision-making by the ship’s crew.

By implementing Evolution EMS and other emissions monitoring practices, ship operators can significantly improve their ship’s environmental performance.

For example, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd implemented a comprehensive emissions monitoring system and achieved a 19% reduction in CO2 emissions from their ships. Another success story comes from the Danish shipping company Maersk, which reduced its CO2 emissions by 43% by implementing various emissions reduction measures, including monitoring.

If you have any questions regarding emissions monitoring, please get in touch with our team today.