Australia to review open-loop scrubber strategy with Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will hold discussions with state authorities and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to review whether or not the country will allow the use of open-loop scrubbers in Australian waters.

As it stands, AMSA will permit ships operating in Australian waters to use all scrubber systems – open, hybrid and closed – provided they are approved and operated in accordance with the IMO’s 2015 Guidelines for Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems.

However, a spokesperson for AMSA told Splash today that changes could be afoot.

“AMSA will be engaging closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and state/NT authorities regarding the potential impacts of these discharges, taking into account Australian water quality standards, to determine the regulatory requirements for Australian waters,” a spokesperson told Splash.

In neighbouring New Zealand, home to some of the strictest marine environmental regulations in the world, the government will look into the matter, as and when ships with this type of exhaust gas cleaning system visit the country.

A spokesperson from New Zealand’s Ministry of Transport told Splash: “The Ministry of Transport is aware that open-loop scrubbers are an environmental issue overseas. However, the types of ships that use this technology do not currently come to New Zealand. If it became a problem here we would definitely look into it.”

Should changes need to be made to address the issue of open-loop scrubbers this would be done by amending New Zealand’s Resource Management Act, which currently legislates against maritime discharge into the water.

In the last couple of weeks Singapore has become the latest country to come out against open-loop scrubbers joining Belgium, three American states, Dublin port, Latvia, Lithuania, the German section of the Rhine river in issuing restrictions on open-loop scrubber use ahead of the 2020 global sulphur cap. Splash understands too that China is set to ban the technology along its rivers.

In its latest weekly report Alphatanker mused: “It seems likely that more countries will eventually ban open-loop scrubbers going forward”.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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