The International Maritime Organization (IMO) made a decision to designate the Baltic Sea a NOx emissions control area (NECA) in 2016, and the emission reduction requirement of 80% applicable to new vessels came into effect in 2021. Thanks to the decision, NOx emissions from vessels will decrease to a small percentage of the current amount as the fleet renews during the next 30 years.
Due to the international character of maritime shipping, the Finnish premise is that regulation of the ships and their emissions are to be prepared in the international maritime organization IMO. This is also defined in the Maritime Transport Strategy for Finland 2014–2022.
In the measure, an application is prepared for the IMO for designating the Baltic Sea as an emissions control area for nitrogen oxides, in accordance with the MARPOL Convention’s Annex VI. The ships built after a mutually agreed effective date are required to decrease their nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%. The share of nitrogen from ship traffic loading is approximately 2–3%. The share will be reduced with NECA to 0.4–0.6%. This will for its part control the eutrophication, as algae growth especially in the Gulf of Finland is limited by nitrogen.
The Baltic Sea and the North Sea countries’ coordination in the NECA matter is important. By simultaneous nomination of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea as NECA areas in IMO, the equal preconditions for competition are improved and larger environmental benefits will be achieved.
In Finland, NECA matters are handled by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and Traficom