Green Marine and Regulatory Requirements Monitoring

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The Matson ship Lurline in the Port of Oakland. (Creative Commons photo by Eugene Zelenko)

The shipping and ports industry are essential to the global economy. With over 50,000 merchant vessels and 17 million containers in the world, the world economy would not function without shipping.

Like all large industries, the shipping industry creates a significant impact on the environment. Yet, it seems to be taking its responsibilities in hand and we can sense a change in culture through its various initiatives and efforts. For example, one of the major environmental impacts is the use of bunker fuel, a distillate from the crude oil refinery process, which is highly polluting and remains one of the top environmental issues for the marine transportation industry. As a solution, some vessels are moving towards liquid natural gas propulsion, which will result in substantial reduction in SOx, NOx and GHG emissions. The number of LNG vessels is expected to grow to over 1000 by 2020!

Changes to fuel-type are just one environmental initiative. In 2008, the North American shipping industry and ports came together to form a strategy to improve environmental performance, Green Marine. The program is outlined as follows,

“Green Marine is an environmental certification program for the North American marine industry. It is a voluntary, transparent and inclusive initiative that addresses key environmental issues through its 11 performance indicators. Participants are shipowners, ports, terminals, Seaway corporations and shipyards. The cornerstone of the Green Marine initiative is its far-reaching environmental program, which makes it possible for any marine company operating in Canada or the U.S. to reduce its environmental footprint by undertaking concrete and measurable actions.”

As part of this initiative, the first requirement is to ensure that the shipowners, ports and terminals meet regulatory requirements. The first level of the five level process outlined in Green Marine states, “Does the participant ensure have regulatory monitoring process in place?”. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but must be done efficiently, especially when operating in multiple jurisdictions.

The Green Marine program goes on to outline that participants must demonstrate concrete action concerning regulatory monitoring. The actions can include, but are not limited to

  • A software for regulatory monitoring;
  • Notifications from governments, associations, and standards associations; and
  • Environmental compliance audits.

This could be accomplished with a software service such as Nimonik, but it can also be done in other ways. In short, we are pleased to see that the first step of Green Marine is regulatory compliance and we hope that all of their members will use it as a stepping stone to the more ambitious environmental performance goals outlined in the Green Marine program. This is a promising project for the shipping industry and we hope it takes hold.