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Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

Cruise shipping legislation

The latest news on cruise shipping legislation.

Part 6 A of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2015

Air emissions from cruise ships can impact on local communities in Sydney Harbour. Many cruise ships emit high levels of fine particles and sulfur dioxide, both of which can be harmful to human health.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 has been amended to reduce the sulfur content of fuel used by cruise ships in Sydney Harbour. Reducing sulfur is the key means of reducing both fine particle and sulfur dioxide pollution.

Part 6A of the Regulation requires:

  1. the use of low sulfur fuel (0.1% or less) by cruise ships while berthed in Sydney Harbour from 1 October 2015
  2. the use of low sulfur fuel (0.1% or less) by cruise ships while in Sydney Harbour (PDF 9.7MB) from 1 July 2016.

Exemptions are allowed for alternate methods, such as exhaust scrubbers or alternative fuels, that give at least an equivalent emission reduction to the use of low sulfur fuel.

Action is required in NSW due to the high sulfur levels of fuels currently used and their impacts on urban communities in close proximity to cruise terminals. The air quality benefits of the Regulation are estimated in the Better Regulation Statement (PDF 214KB).

The Regulation amendment focuses on Sydney Harbour. Cruise ship visits to Sydney Harbour constitute over 90% of all cruise ship visits to NSW ports. Further consultation will be undertaken with local communities in regional NSW ports before considering any broader application of the low sulfur fuel requirements.

Information for industry

  • Shipping Industry Brochure (PDF 517KB): The EPA has developed an information brochure to assist the cruise shipping industry to understand and comply with the new low sulfur fuel requirements. The brochure provides a summary of the requirements and an overview of the compliance activities that will be carried out by the EPA.
  • Compliance Strategy (PDF 184KB): The EPA has prepared a compliance strategy to assist the industry in understanding and preparing for compliance activities under the new low sulfur fuel requirements. This strategy uses a risk-based approach to compliance and is supported by the EPA's Prosecution Guidelines.

Application forms for masters and owners of cruise ships to apply to the EPA for:

All exemptions and approvals issued by the EPA will be made available on this webpage.

Notifications to EPA

A cruise ship master or owner must, in certain circumstances, notify the EPA under clause 78F that a ship is unable to use low sulfur fuel, for example, where all reasonable steps have been taken to obtain low sulfur fuel but none is available, or in the event of an emergency or unforseen technical problems.

Notifications should be made to the EPA at least 48 hours prior to the ship's arrival at a berth in Sydney Harbour, or if this is not possible, as soon as practicable after arriving, by calling Environment Line on 131 555 (or +61 2 9995 5555).

Cruise ships that use Liquefied Natural Gas, Compressed Natural Gas or Liquefied Petroleum Gas as their primary fuel source are also required under clause 78H to notify the EPA. Download the form for notification under clause 78H (DOC 90KB).

Notifications relating to alternate fuel use are to be made by email to stating 'Notification under clause 78H of the Clean Air Regulation' in the subject line.

Diesel and Marine Emissions Management Strategy

The Regulation is part of a broad Diesel and Marine Emissions Management Strategy the EPA is implementing to address non-road diesel and marine emissions in NSW.

Read more information on the EPA's management of non-road diesel and marine emissions.

Page last updated: 03 April 2017