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  • 2021 July 2 17:39

    Reception of waste in Finnish ports to be enhanced

    The Government of Finland proposed on 23 June 2021 that the President of the Republic approve the amendments to the Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport on improving waste reception in ports.

    A significant change is that, from now on, coastal and inland marinas with between 25 and 49 berths are also required to receive waste from vessels and draw up a waste management plan. Previously, the requirements applied to marinas with at least 50 berths. With these changes, the regulations will apply to hundreds more ports. At the same time, the scope of the law is expanded. The amended law will regulate ship-to-ship transfers of noxious and hazardous cargo and fuel deliveries. Previously, only transfers of oil cargo were regulated.

    In addition, the Act on the Security of Certain Ships and Associated Port Facilities and on Monitoring Maritime Security, the Ship Register Act, the Act on the Technical Safety and Safe Operation of Ships and the Act on Marine Equipment will be amended as of 1 July 2021.

    The purpose of the revised Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport is to encourage recreational and commercial vessels to dispose of their waste regularly at ports. The regulation will reduce littering in the Baltic Sea and Finland’s inland waters as well as the discharge of plastics and nutrients into the marine environment. The Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport has been amended to meet the requirements of EU Directive 2019/883 on ship waste.

    The amendments concern small ports in particular, such as marinas for recreational craft with more than 25 berths, fishing ports, and ports used by connecting ferries and water buses. The regulations on commercial shipping remain largely unchanged, with the exception that waste reception requirements at commercial ports are specified.

    From now on, all ports should have the capability to receive waste from vessels using the port. The size of marinas to which the regulations apply is lowered from 50 berths to 25 berths. Piers of private homes and holiday homes, landing places for boats, piers for connecting traffic to holiday homes, jointly owned shores and beaches, and piers of shops and restaurants are excluded from the regulations. The transition period for organising waste reception is until 30 April 2022.

    Home ports are required to have reception facilities for oily and hazardous waste, mixed waste and human waste products. This corresponds to the current requirements for marinas with at least 50 berths. Guest harbours should have the facilities to receive mixed waste and human waste products. As is currently the case, port operators may agree with local service providers on the use of waste reception facilities.

    The obligation to receive waste is extended to fishing ports and ports used by connecting ferries and water buses.

    All ports must draw up a waste management plan for a period of five years instead of the current three years.

    From now on, commercial ports are required to also receive biowaste, paper, cardboard and other municipal waste. Commercial shipping regulations, including the reporting of port data in the EU maritime data management system, the obligation of ports to provide vessels a receipt of delivered waste and exemptions granted to vessels are harmonised across the EU.

    In accordance with the MARPOL Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, the Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport includes provisions on ship-to-ship transfers of oil cargo. From now on, national regulations will apply to transfers of all types of noxious and hazardous cargo, including biofuels, chemicals, waste and other noxious and hazardous cargo. Transfers are restricted to separately designated waters. An advance notice is required to allow the authorities to intervene in the transfer if necessary. The requirements also apply to ship-to-ship fuel deliveries in ports and at sea.

    (Photo: Konstantinks, Shutterstock)
    Image source: Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications
    In addition, the monitoring of operators for compliance with the EU Sulphur Directive is enhanced. Sampling is extended to cover fuel deliveries and the authority to impose penalties is expanded to also include fuel suppliers that have provably supplied high-sulphur fuel in breach of the regulations.

    The fee charged for discharges of oil is extended to also apply in inland waters. Previously, the fee could only be imposed for discharges that take place at sea.

    The Government proposed that the temporary amendments of the Act on the Security of Certain Ships and Associated Port Facilities and on Monitoring Maritime Security and the Ship Register Act due to COVID-19 be made permanent. In the future, security inspections required by the Act on the Security of Certain Ships and Associated Port Facilities and on Monitoring Maritime Security could also be carried out by certified inspection agencies. Previously, the right to perform inspections was restricted to the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency. The provisions of the Ship Register Act on copies of documents of titles and the deregistration of vessels are amended. From now on, vessels can be removed from the register based on a copy of the document of title, provided that the original title is submitted to the authorities retrospectively. At the same time, technical amendments are made to the Act on the Technical Safety and Safe Operation of Ships and the Act on Marine Equipment.

    The President of the Republic is expected to approve the amendments to the Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport, the Act on the Security of Certain Ships and Associated Port Facilities and on Monitoring Maritime Security, the Ship Register Act, the Act on the Technical Safety and Safe Operation of Ships and the Act on Marine Equipment on 29 June 2021. The amendments will enter into force on 1 July 2021.

    Waste management plans by ports must be updated and approved by the authorities by 31 December 2022. The supervisory authority for recreational marinas and small fishing ports is the municipal environmental protection authority. The supervisory authority for other ports is the regional Centrefor Economic Development, Transport and the Environment.

    The requirements for waste reception will be specified by a decree.


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