On January 1, California set a leading edge in being the first jurisdiction in the world to require that container ships begin using shore power while at berth. The new “Vessels at Berth Regulations” will be phased in over the next six years with 50% of every container carrier’s fleet calling in California now being required to hook up to shore power, increasing to 70% on January 1, 2017, and 80% on Jan. 1, 2020. However, in showing some much needed pragmatism for a change, on Dec. 23, 2013 CARB issued an advisory that the “commissioning” of vessels could continue through June 30, 2014. At the same time, the allowable sulphur limit for both gas and diesel oil being burned in California’s waters was reduced to 0.1%, one year in advance of ECA regulations requiring same.
Unrelated to the above, vessels calling at California ports will also soon face new rules to curb bio-fouling. Draft regulations from the California State Land Commission are being prepared for implementation on January 1, 2015. The new rules which stipulate that a hull must have less than 5% bio-fouling or in a niche area less than 10%, have the same aim as ballast water regulations in so much as they seek to curb the spread of invasive aquatic species by specifying the percentage of biofouling permitted on the underwater parts of the ship’s hull. Niche areas are the sea chest and gratings, bow and stern thruster and gratings, fin stabilizers and recesses, propeller shaft, propeller and rudders. As is the case with ballast water rules, the bio-fouling rules will require presentation of a specific bio-fouling management plan and record book, listing dockings and cleaning activity. Australia and New Zealand have both played a role in crafting the regulations since they too are intent on adopting something similar and are believed to be preparing a case for IMO consideration.