Extension of enforcement of California’s at-berth regulations from April 1st

Container, reefer, and passenger vessels have been required to control their emissions while berthed in California since the beginning of the year, but from April 1st  all vessels must submit a report to the authorities within 30 days of visiting one of the state’s ports.

Since 2014 emissions from container, reefer, and passenger vessels have been controlled at-berth by the California Resource Board’s (CARB) 2007 At-Berth Regulation. In December 2020 a new At-berth Regulation was approved, which had more stringent air emission control and reporting requirements. These were set to take effect from January 1st 2023.

The new 2020 At-Berth Regulation broadens the scope of the previous regulation by expanding emission control requirements to more vessels, including two additional vessel types: tanker and ro-ro vessels, and including new ports and terminals that serve these vessel types.

A change from a 25-visit fleet-based threshold to a 20-visit terminal-based threshold increased the number of already-regulated vessel types (container, reefer and passenger vessels) that were subject to emission control requirements.

Emission control requirements

As with most regulations, the devil is in the detail. As a general principle, all ocean-going vessels are subject to the 2020 At Berth Regulation. However, only container, reefer, passenger, ro-ro and tanker vessels must reduce emissions while at berth. An exception is if the vessel is visiting a berth that is at a low activity terminal, i.e. a terminal that receives less than 20 visits from that vessel type per calendar year. Compliance with the emission control requirements of the new regulation is phased in over time in accordance with the following implementation schedule: 

January 1st 2023

Container, reefer, and passenger vessels

January 1st 2025

Ro-ro and tanker vessels visiting the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

January 1st 2027

All remaining tanker vessels

Reporting requirements

All vessel categories, including bulk and general cargo vessels, have visit-reporting requirements under the 2020 At-Berth Regulation. In practice, this means that all vessels, regardless of whether a vessel or terminal has emission control requirements, must submit a report to CARB within 30 days of visiting a California marine terminal.

The initial implementation date of the reporting requirement was to be January 1st 2023. However, in a notice issued on January 20th CARB advised that the reporting implementation date has been delayed by four months due to unforeseen circumstances caused by a series of storms that hit California in the first few weeks of 2023.

Therefore, no vessel visit report under any of the specific reporting provisions listed in the new regulation is due until April1st 2023. CARB however added that it encouraged those that could achieve the reporting timeframes set forth in the new regulation to continue to do so.

Ro-ro and tanker vessels have the same visit reporting requirements as other vessels, which means that these vessel types must submit visit reports to CARB also in the period leading up to the deadline for complying with the emission control requirements.