USCG issues US ECA FONAR rule changes

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 01 July 2019


A change of procedure is being introduced in the two US ECAs because the US Environmental Protection Agency is no longer involved in dealing with cases where compliant fuel oil is not available.

The Office of Commerical Vessel Compliance has published Marine Safety Information Bulletin 005-19, “New Procedure for Shipping Industry to Notify the US Government of Non Availability of Compliant Fuel Oil.”

The notice states:

  • Effective immediately, owners and operators of vessels operating in the North American (NA) or US Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area (ECA) that are unable to acquire sufficient MARPOL Annex VI compliant fuel oil at a foreign or US port may satisfy the MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 18.2.4 requirement to notify the competent authority of the relevant port of destination by notifying the cognizant USCG Captain of the Port (COTP). Effective June 30, 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will stop accepting Fuel Oil Non-Availability Reports (FONARs).
  • Failure to make the notifications required by MARPOL Annex VI, 18.2.4 may result in a vessel control (e.g., detention) and/or enforcement action.
  • There is no specific format* for the notification; however, consistent with MARPOL Annex VI, Regulation 18.2.1, the ship owner or operator should be prepared to present a record of the actions taken to achieve compliance, including evidence that they attempted to purchase compliant fuel oil in accordance with the vessel’s voyage plan.
  • The USCG will investigate all reports of non-compliance with MARPOL Annex VI to determine what actions may be warranted. Such actions may range from completing the investigation with no follow-on action, detaining the vessel, and/or pursuing civil penalties. The USCG may also refer the matter to EPA.
  • Ship owners and operators are reminded that the sulphur content of any fuel oil used onboard ships within the NA or US Caribbean Sea ECAs will not change when the worldwide sulphur cap is reduced on January 1, 2020.

* There is no specific format at this time for a FONAR. Until the IMO adopts one, it is suggested ships use the format provided in the Annex to PPR 6/8/2 ("Consistent Implementation of Regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI: Proposed Template to report compliant fuel oil non-availability").

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