BirdLife Malta Pushes for Mediterranean Sulfur ECA with New Ship Air Pollution Campaign

Friday December 9, 2016

BirdLife Malta today announced that, along with Germany's Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and other Mediterranean environmental NGO partners, it has launched the international project "Together Against Air Pollution from Ships" in Malta, which is aimed at increasing local awareness of air pollution generated by cruise ships to support the declaration of a Mediterranean Sea sulfur emission control area (ECA).

"Such an emission control area at sea would improve air quality by demanding that all ships operating within the Mediterannean use cleaner fuels," said BirdLife Malta.

The project's details were announced at a press conference held in Valletta, which featured addresses from representatives of BirdLife Malta, and NABU, as well as Axel Friedrich, an independent air quality expert.

The press conference is noted to have followed an air pollution measurement exercise held on Thursday in Valletta and Birgu, which is said to have demonstrated high concentrations of ultrafine particles in the ambient air while ships were transiting through Grand Harbour.

"Measurements revealed concentrations 80 times higher than clean air levels expected of areas not exposed to any pollution sources," explained BirdLife Malta, adding: "ultrafine particles are known to be a major risk to human health as they trigger severe heart and lung disease."

The project partners, through a "Clean Cruise Ship Action Network," will exchange information, knowledge, and expertise through regular conferences intended to discuss air pollution from ships.

In April, Leif Miller, CEO at NABU hailed the North Sea and Baltic Sea Sulfur ECA a "European success story" for its positive impact on vessel emissions.