Four flag-of-convenience ships registered in other countries were each fined NT$100,000 for not using low-sulfur fuels when entering or leaving the nation’s seaports this year, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said.
The ministry said it on Jan. 1 started requesting that ships accessing Taiwan’s ports use fuels containing only 0.5 percent sulfur, to meet upcoming guidelines from the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.
The four ships penalized under the new rule are registered in the Marshall Islands, Panama, Hong Kong and Singapore, the ministry said, adding that two of them entered through the Port of Taichung, while the other two arrived through the Port of Kaohsiung.
In addition to fines, Taiwan International Ports Corp could seize the vessels if the carriers fail to address the situation, the ministry said.
The mandate for ships to use low-sulfur fuels has significantly lowered the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the air near the nation’s seven seaports, the ministry said, citing statistics from the Environmental Protection Administration.
The sulfur oxide concentration near seaports in Taichung, Keelung and Kaohsiung have dropped by 18 percent, 32 percent and 45 percent respectively, it added.
The ministry said it has made other efforts to lower air pollution, including requesting that ships reduce their operating speed when entering seaports, expanding the shore power facilities and decreasing pollution produced by heavy-duty machines in seaports.
Since August, the ministry has used eco-friendly conveyor belt systems for unloading cargo, it said, adding that non-electric machinery would also use low-sulfur fuels.
In other news, Taiwan has joined the US Coast Guard’s Quality Shipping for the 21st Century initiative, or Qualship 21.
The program was launched in 2001 to encourage shipping carriers to maintain a high-quality fleet, Department of Aviation and Navigation Director-General Yeh Hsieh-lung (葉協隆) said.
To qualify for the program, carriers must have passed at least 10 US port state control examinations in each of the previous three years with a detention ratio of less than 1 percent, he said, adding that 57 Taiwanse vessels passed the examinations.
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