Germany is a member of the European Union, Directive(EU) 2016/802 therefore applies and a maximum of 0.10% sulphur fuel is to be used in port. German coastal waters are in the North Sea and Baltic Emission Control Area as defined under MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 14 and therefore the limit of 0.10% sulphur fuel also applies to vessels outside of ports when in open seas.

Scrubbers as an alternative method of compliance

EGCSA is currently seeking further advice on overboard discharges from scrubber systems in Germany and practical interpretation of the document cited below.

It should be noted that an EGCSA member has also discussed the matter of scrubber discharges in German waters with a German ship operator. The ship operator has advised that: “They have no clear documentation on what kind of EGCS operation is allowed in each individual port. They will always check with the port authorities regarding possible requirements before berthing.”

Rechtliche Vorgaben zum Umgang mit Schiffsabwasser Völker-, unions- und nationalrechtliche Anforderungen an Einleitungen von Scrubber-Abwasser, Ballastwasser undhäuslichem Abwasser durch Schiffe – Legal requirements for the handling of ship waste water. International, union and national law requirements for discharges of scrubber waste water, ballast water and domestic sewage through ships was published by the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA) February 2019.

The document (which can be downloaded from here and here) has a summary in English explaining the complex interrelationship of international, regional and German national legal instruments and how MARPOL Annex VI and the EU Sulphur Directive are implemented via:

Further advice is to follow on applicable regulations in:

  • Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters
  • Territorial/coastal waters including
    • Sea and inland waterways that are shipping lanes and link ports to the sea
  • ‘Sea’ ports

However, it should be noted that discharges from scrubbers are prohibited in State (Länder) sea ports adjacent to federal (national) inland waterways that are ship navigable

For information, the WHG, Water Resources Act and the CDNI and its implementing laws apply in parallel for those state sea ports adjacent to inland waterways, which are open to ships e.g. Hamburg and Bremen, however the CDNI and its implementing laws have primacy in practice, and scrubber discharges are not permitted. (EGCSA is seeking further advice on this interpretation and more port names where this applies)

It should be noted that even though Hamburg is located 110km inland on the River Elbe it is considered a sea port because of the ability to handle sea-going vessels. Similarly, Bremen on the River Weser is a sea port.

The CDNI aims to protect aquatic ecosystems and to improve safety of navigation in inland waterways by avoiding ship-related waste. With the exception of the German part of Lake Constance and the Rhine section North of Rheinfelden, the CDNI is applicable to all German inland waterways open to general transport. The discharge of ship-generated waste is absolutely prohibited including scrubber washwater from sea-going vessels.