Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ15: Marine Emission

     Following is a question by the Hon James To and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (July 17):


     The residents in the vicinity of The Long Beach, Tai Kok Tsui have repeatedly complained to me that they see from time to time a large volume of dark smoke emitted by cargo vessels in the waters off their housing estates. The dark smoke covers the entire area and lasts for a long time, and its pungent smell affects the health of the residents. Regarding the reduction of emissions from vessels to mitigate the problem of air pollution in the coastal areas, the Government has studied various mitigating measures. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the authorities have conducted tests to check if the levels of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and respirable suspended particulates in the dark smoke emitted by the cargo vessels sailing through the said area exceed the relevant standards, and whether the authorities have assessed the impact of the dark smoke on the health of the residents nearby; if they have, of the results and measures to mitigate the problem of air pollution in the area;

(b) whether the authorities have assessed the effectiveness of the port facilities and light dues incentive scheme since its implementation last year in encouraging ocean-going vessels to switch to low-sulphur diesel oil from residual oil while berthing in Hong Kong waters ("fuel switch at berth"); of the expected time when public consultation on the implementation of mandatory fuel switch at berth will be conducted;

(c) of the progress made by the authorities in exploring the feasibility of implementing "fuel switch at berth" in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) waters with the relevant authorities of Guangdong, Shenzhen and Macao; whether any difficulties have been encountered; if so, of the reasons for that;

(d) apart from the plan to install on-shore electricity supply in the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, whether it has any plans to install such facilities in other cruise terminals; if it does not have such plans, of the reasons for that;

(e) whether the authorities have set up any project group to follow up the feasibility of establishing an Emission Control Area (ECA) in PRD waters; if they have, of the progress, including whether they have discussed the issue with the relevant authorities of Guangdong, Shenzhen and Macao, and the data on the estimated reduction in emissions of pollutants; if they have discussed the issue, of the details, and the cities or regions which have undertaken to establish an ECA and the timetable for establishing ECA; if not, whether any difficulties have been encountered, and of those difficulties;

(f) whether the authorities will consider exploring, in collaboration with the authorities of the regions adjacent to the eastern waters of Hong Kong (including Daya Bay), the establishment of an ECA in those waters; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(g) whether the authorities will conduct public consultation on the plan to establish ECA; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a) The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has a general air quality monitoring station at Sham Shui Po, the monitoring data of which can reflect the air quality in Tai Kok Tsui area.  According to the data recorded by the station in 2012, the numbers of occasions where respirable suspended particulates (RSP), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exceeded their respective Air Quality Objectives (AQOs) were in the annex.
     As the sulphur content of marine fuel is relatively high, the concentration of SO2 can reflect the impact of vessels on air quality around the port areas.  In 2012, the highest one-hour and 24-hour averages of SO2 recorded by the Sham Shui Po Station were 206µg/m3 and 84µg/m3 respectively, and the annual average was 13µg/m3, all being well lower than the limits of the their respective AQOs (800µg/m3, 350µg/m3 and 80µg/m3 respectively).  The two 24-hour averages of NO2 (158µg/m3 and 156µg/m3) that exceeded the AQOs in 2012 were mainly caused by emissions from motor vehicles.

     To reduce emissions from vessels and improve air quality, the Government has launched the Port Facilities and Light Dues Incentive Scheme to encourage ocean going vessels (OGVs) to switch to the use of low sulphur fuel while at berth.  In addition, the Government is planning to mandate this practice and upgrade the quality of locally supplied marine light diesel so as to further improve the air quality around the area.
(b) The Port Facilities and Light Dues Incentive Scheme aims to encourage OGVs to switch to the use of low sulphur fuel while at berth so as to reduce emissions.  The scheme was launched in September 2012.  As at end of June 2013, a total of 2 436 OGV-calls participated in the scheme and the participation rate was about 12%.  We will continue to encourage more OGVs to join the scheme.

     The Chief Executive announced in the 2013 Policy Address that Hong Kong would bring in new legislation to enforce the fuel switch requirement for OGVs while at berth.  We completed the stakeholders' consultation in the first half of the year and have drafted a regulatory proposal.  We will submit the proposal to the Panel on Environmental Affairs of the Legislative Council (LegCo) for discussion at the meeting on July 22, 2013.  Subject to the Members' support, we aim at tabling the new regulation for LegCo's scrutiny in the next legislative session and implement it in 2015.

(c) To maximise the environmental benefits, we are discussing with relevant authorities of Guangdong and Shenzhen on plans to reduce regional maritime emissions, which include exploring the feasibility of requiring OGVs to switch to low sulphur fuel while berthing in the waters of the Pearl River Delta (PRD).

(d) EPD has proposed to the operator of Ocean Terminal the installation of on-shore power facilities for the use by cruise vessels equipped with such facilities. The operator is considering the feasibility of the proposal.

(e), (f) and (g) According to the provision of Annex VI to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the application for designation of an Emission Control Area (ECA) must be made by a Party to the Convention.  Since the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is not a Party to the Convention, the application to IMO must be made by the Central People's Government if we wish to pursue the ECA initiative.  To maximise the environmental benefits, we are discussing with the Provincial Government of Guangdong to explore introducing measures to reduce marine emissions within PRD waters.  Hong Kong and Guangdong will first explore requiring OGVs to switch to the use of low sulphur fuel while berthing, and relevant discussion already started earlier this year.  Establishing an ECA in PRD is our long-term goal.

Ends/Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Issued at HKT 14:18


Print this page