Trident Alliance letter to the Swedish Minister of Infrastructure

Ms Anna Johansson
Minister of Infrastructure, 
Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation



I am writing as Chair of the Trident Alliance, an international coalition of more than 35 ship owners and operators from 12 countries, who share a common interest in robust enforcement of maritime sulphur regulations. This letter concerns Sweden’s implementation of the 0.1% sulphur in fuel requirements that came into effect in the Baltic Emission Control Area (ECA) on 1 January 2015, in accordance with Annex VI of the IMO MARPOL Convention.  

The Trident Alliance has been made aware of the policy of the Swedish Transport Agency to charge a fee to ship owners for port state inspections carried out to verify compliance with regulation 14 of MARPOL Annex VI. The Trident Alliance members view the underlying principle of this matter with great concern.

We note that MARPOL Annex VI is a ‘Relevant Instrument’ listed under Section 2.1 of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control. Accordingly, the Trident Alliance believes that it is not correct for the Swedish Transport Agency to argue (as stated in its notice of 22 December 2014) that such inspections fall outside of the normal Port State Control regime and that ships may therefore be subject to a charge.

Furthermore, the Trident Alliance believes that this approach sets a most unwelcome precedent. Through this practice, Swedish authorities imply that sulphur regulations are not of the same status or importance as the other duties performed by Port State Control – a position we find rather alarming. It is even more damaging when it is comes from a country that is seen as a standard bearer for environmental progress. We already see a worrying level of non-compliance with sulphur regulations in the EU, in particular in the North Sea, and to in this way throw even more doubt over the EU commitment to enforcement of sulphur regulations is not a step in the right direction.

It might even lead other Port States to take a similar approach to the enforcement of MARPOL in general. With the Global sulphur cap on the horizon, the focus on sulphur enforcement as a central part of port state control should be increased and not reduced in importance.

The procedures agreed under the Paris MoU, to which Sweden is a signatory, clearly establish that shipowners should not be expected to pay for PSC enforcement measures, unless they relate to follow-up inspections necessary to confirm the rectification of previously identified deficiencies when a ship has been detained (Paris MOU Section 3.7), or when a ship has been banned from the Paris MOU region (Section 4). This principle is also reiterated in EU Directive 2009/16 on Port State Control (Article 28).

To this end, the Trident Alliance respectfully requests the Swedish Transport Agency to review its policy without delay as this measure appears to be contrary to accepted international practice, the Paris MOU and EU Directive 2009/16.

We fully appreciate the effort of Swedish authorities to ramp up sulphur inspections, and understand that this work requires funding. We are not objecting to the cost per se. But this cost should primarily be carried by the parties violating the regulations through fines, not by the random selection of vessels that authorities decide to inspect. If that is not possible in the short term, the inspection costs could be covered as part of the fairway dues system. This way the shipping community pays for the upholding of the level playing field but inspections can still be handled as part of Port State Control.

The Trident Alliance members fully support the 0.1% sulphur ECA requirements and see robust enforcement as crucial for ensuring compliance across the shipping industry and with that a level playing field, as well as for achieving the health benefits of reduced sulphur levels. We would be happy to start a closer dialogue with the Swedish Transport Agency in order to share our experiences and contribute to stronger sulphur enforcement, and would to that end suggest a meeting between Agency representatives and members of the Trident Alliance Steering Committee at your convenience.    


Yours sincerely,

Anna Larsson
Chair, The Trident Alliance

VP, Global Head of Sustainability
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics
Oslo, Norway