Lawyers See Coronavirus Obscuring IMO 2020 Compliance Picture

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Tuesday April 14, 2020

Measures around the world to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic may be preventing the shipping industry from getting a clear view of how compliance with IMO 2020 is progressing so far, according to maritime law firm Hill Dickinson.

"The implementation of the global sulphur cap was progressing smoothly with reports of high levels of compliance," Beth Bradley, a partner at the firm, said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

"Three months on and the disruption to international shipping caused by Covid-19 has pushed sulphur cap issues well and truly from the headlines.

"Enforcement action will perhaps be less of a priority."

The company cited recent reports that the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency has temporarily suspended checks for compliance with the new sulfur cap as evidence of some authorities directing resources away from IMO 2020 enforcement measures.

"While the sulphur cap and the carriage ban remain in force such that owners risk enforcement action if they carry marine fuel with a sulphur content in excess of 0.50% m/m for use on board, the disruption caused by Covid-19 may reduce that risk where port state control is under pressure on other fronts," Bradley said.

"It also will make it difficult to ascertain a full picture relating to compliance and enforcement until sometime after the pandemic has receded."