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Compliance monitoring pilot for Marpol Annex VI

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Low-emission alternative energy for transport (ALT)
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

As of January 2015, a new regulation entered into force limiting sulphur emissions from ships in the Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) to 0.1%. The CompMon CEF Action aims to produce actionable information (e.g. risk ratings, alerts), which can be used by national control authorities to target on-board inspections in a cost-efficient manner, to those ships that most likely are non-compliant with IMO MARPOL Annex VI regulations.


CompMon will achieve this by using remote sensing and sampling methods to determine the compliance of individual vessels, in particular the sulphur content in fuel. While it is expected that the CompMon information would be complemented with other (onboard) evidence for legal proceedings, the CEF Action will set the basis for standardization and approval processes to establish CompMon data as an audit trail and to increase their value as prima facie evidence. The scope is to pilot and demonstrate the feasibility of such an approach at an European scale. This is a wider benefit MoS Action and will impact all TEN-T Corridors. As such it will contribute to the objective of the Global project, namely to enhance the enforcement and compliance with the SECA regulation in the EU.


Parent Programmes
Type of funding
Public (EU)
Funding Source
Finish Transport Safety Agency, Finnish Meteorological Institute Åbo Akademi University, Transportstyrelsen, Chalmers Tekniska Hoegskola AB, Inspectie Leefo


A number of new technologies have been developed that can be used for strengthening the enforcement, either by means of improved control in ports or by means of surveillance on the high seas. However, at the moment none of the technologies can alone ensure sufficient coverage, but digitization could provide new opportunities to combine information from different sources for efficient environmental surveillance. Several Member States are already performing different remote surveillance methods such as mobile platforms (aircraft and ships) and fixed platforms along the fairways situated close to shoreline. First steps for the surveillance of ships' SOx and NOx emissions by means of lighter sensors placed in RPAS and helicopters have been taken.

The national authorities of CompMon Member States are also working hard to ensure that the future amendments of the national and EU regulations support digitalized and automated remote surveillance of ships. Satellite based surveillance would improve the cost efficiency of remote measurements in the future because the time in relation to the surveyed area would be minimized. However, applicability of SO2 data gained from satellites is still to be proved. 

A part of the project was the preparation of the study analysing international law questions related to the implementation and enforcement of the air emission and fuel quality standards for ships, in view of the strengthened requirements that apply in 'Sulphur Emission Control Areas' (SECAs) as from 1 January 2015.There are main results of the study:

  • There is a comprehensive framework in place for regulating and enforcing rules relating ship-source pollution, at jurisdictional as well as technical level. This framework has been in place for several decades and has been complemented by activities to improve enforcement regional or sub-regional organizations. However, this framework is designed for dealing with discharges into the marine environment and is not always directly transferable to the enforcement of rules relating to air emissions from ships.
  • Several features distinguish the enforcement of air emissions violations from other forms of ship-source pollution, to some extent in law, but more importantly in terms of practical enforcement. Particular challenges in the enforcement of air emission violations include the way the violation is detected and verified, the gathering of evidence, proving the violation and setting the penalty level. Yet, in reality few states have developed an enforcement scheme specifically for air emissions.
  • In practice, the absence of enforcement mechanisms that target the specificities of air emissions has had the effect that very few instances of non-compliance have resulted in sizeable penalties or other deterrent measures, despite the significant economic incentives for evasion.
  • The absence of effective enforcement not only risks to undermine other efforts to strengthen monitoring of the fuel quality requirements, but also represents a failure to the implement the obligation to apply effective and dissuasive sanctions as required by both MARPOL and EU law.
  • The issues discussed in the study will be of global relevance when the new requirements to apply stricter requirements worldwide come into effect on 1 January 2020.


Lead Organisation
United Kingdom
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
United Kingdom
EU Contribution


Technology Theme
Emissions control systems
Drone technology system to monitor sulphur emissions from ships

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