Published: 27 January 2020

Updated: 29 November 2022

The MARPOL convention allows for the use of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems[1] (EGCS, more commonly referred to as scrubbers) as an alternative means of complying with the 2020 low sulphur regulations.

However some jurisdictions have imposed local regulations which restrict or prohibit the discharge of wash water from scrubbers within their waters.

The list below includes countries and ports where such restrictions are currently understood to be in place, based on information received by the Club at the time of publication. However, the list should not be seen as necessarily complete and is for guidance only, in particular noting that local legislation can be subject to change at short notice. Therefore it is important that Members monitor the current situation closely and always contact their local agent/representative prior to arrival. This should include seeking confirmation of the latest situation regarding any applicable requirements relating to the operation of scrubbers and any permission required from the relevant local authorities for their use.

Please feel free to contact the Britannia Loss Prevention department if further assistance or clarification is needed. Members are also welcome to notify us should they experience any restrictions or bans in a port or country not currently on the list.

[1] Subject to approval by the Administration of its use in accordance with Regulation 4 of MARPOL Annex VI while taking into account the 2015 Guidelines for EGCS (IMO Resolution MEPC.259 (68)).

Argentina No, the prohibition is currently suspended All The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Disposición DISFC-2020-22-APN-DPAM#PNA dated 24/09/2020 issued by the Prefectura Naval, Dirección de Protección Ambienta suspended Disposición DISFC-2020-15-APN-DPAM#PNA dated 03/08/2020 which prohibited the discharge of wash water in Argentinian territorial waters and ports. This took effect from 03/10/2020 .

Australia Restricted Territorial Waters of Australia As per Marine Notice 12/2022. AMSA allows vessels operating in Australian waters to use all scrubber systems – open, hybrid and closed – provided they are approved and operated in accordance with the IMO’s 2015 Guidelines for Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems.

The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Port of Hastings
According to information dated 27/01/2020 received from the harbour master, discharge of wash water from EGCS into Westernport waters are not permitted.

Bahrain Restricted Within port limits of Bahrain including the anchorage area. The requirements are set out in Marine Notice PMA 03 2019. This confirms that wash water from open loop scrubbers is not permitted in Bahraini territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) unless it can be proved that the discharge complied with MEPC.259(68) and there is no negative impact on marine ecosystems.

The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Vessels must obtain a permit from the Marine Safety & Environment Protection Directorate before discharging wash water anywhere in Bahrain waters.

Belgium Yes All ports and inland waters The European Commission (EC)’s 2016 Note on discharge of scrubber wash water prohibits the discharge in ports and inland waters but is allowed in coastal and open seawaters when at least 3nm off the coast and if the discharge does not imperil the objectives of the EC Water Framework Directive (WFD), 2000/60/EC.
Belize Yes Territorial waters and port areas of Belize The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Discharge of wash water prohibited in territorial waters and port areas according to Marine Circular 01/2018 – BPA/MS/23-1/2018(98) dated 12/12/2018.

Bermuda Yes Territorial waters of Bermuda The requirements are set out in the document Environmental Policy for Ships, which confirms that in Bermuda’s waters open loop scrubbers are prohibited, while prior approval needs to be sought from the Environmental Authority to use a closed loop scrubber.
Brazil Yes Certain bulk terminals The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Diretoria de Portos e Costas (DPC) Carta Circular 7/2019 dated 22/12/2019 states:

3.4 – The ships that choose to use the Exhaust Gas Cleaning System – EGCS (Scrubbers) must have the equipment approved by a Classification Society, have an approved SOx emission compliance plan, as well as the approved documentation in accordance with the guidelines from the MEPC 259(68).


The exception to above are the bulk terminals/ports operated by Vale S.A., which specifically do not allow discharge of wash water within their waters as per Statement of 20 Dec 2019. Vale has also “recommended” that wash water is not discharged once entering into waters 24 nm from the coast line.

China Yes All Inland river and coastal ECA ports including the Bohai Rim Sea Our correspondent has issued the following circular as guidance Huatai PNI1907 confirming further details of the restricted areas. Further details of the China MSA guidelines on Air Pollution Emissions are provided in Huatai PNI/SPRO[2020]01, which includes details of the procedure which may be adopted by the Maritime Authorities for inspecting scrubbers.
Cyprus Restricted Anchorage and port areas The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

According to the Cyprus Port  Authority (CPA) Regulations of CA 373/2016 Part II – Cyprus Port Authority, ships requiring to use scrubbers at Cyprus’ ports or anchorage areas must submit a written request for assessment and approval by the CPA at least 48 hours prior to the arrival of the ship. The written request shall provide the following detailed information:

– the location that EGCS will be used (port, anchor); and

– the type of EGCS to be used.

Egypt Yes Suez canal waters

Egyptian territorial waters and all Egyptian ports, including Alexandria and Damietta

SCA Circular No 8/2019 and subsequent Clarification circular issued confirm that no waste water discharges are permitted during canal transits.

In addition, our correspondent has reported that the use of all types of scrubber (open / closed / hybrid) is prohibited in Egyptian territorial waters and all Egyptian ports, including Alexandria and Damietta, until Egypt ratifies Annex VI of MARPOL.

Estonia Restricted All ports Estonian Transport Administration Circular No.4 states detailed requirements for waste water discharge, including the need for prior port authorization if wash water is to be discharged in port areas.
Finland Yes Port of Porvoo (Neste Refinery Terminal) It has been reported by our correspondent that the discharge of wash water is prohibited at the Neste Refinery, but no formal notice is available or of other similar port prohibitions.

The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Correspondence with the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communication, dated 05/03/2021: Under Finnish legislation, the discharge of wash waters from open-loop scrubbers is allowed in Finnish ports and territorial waters. However, some ports such as Porvoo may have restricted the discharge in the port area under their own competence.

France Yes Cannes

Cannes Bay Sustainability Charter

Marseille, Le Havre, Cherbourg



The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Cannes – Restriction applies to  cruise ships only in accordance with the Cannes Bay Sustainability Charter.

Marseille, Le Havre, Cherbourg – French Code of Transports (Code de Transports), article R5333-28

Reunion – Following correspondence with the Harbour Master, but no formal notice is available

Dunkerque – Notification received by Clean ship Alliance Member on 04/05/2021, but no formal notice is available

Germany Yes Inland waterways intended for general traffic, including  the Rhine, except for the stretch upstream of Rheinfelden.

This includes ports along these waterways, for example on the Wesser, Rhine, Elbe and Kiel Canal.

Discharge is not allowed according to the Convention on the Collection, Deposit and Reception of Waste Generated during Navigation on the Rhine and Other Inland Waterways CDNI Convention.
Ghana Yes The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Ghana Maritime Authority informs that the operation of open-loop scrubbers are not allowed in Ghanaian waters

Gibraltar Yes Waters of Gibraltar Our correspondent has reported that:

“Closed loop scrubbers are permitted in Gibraltar waters, Hybrid scrubbers operating in closed loop mode are also permitted, and open loop scrubbers are temporarily not permitted as a precautionary measure until the Gibraltar Government arrives at a definitive policy decision with regards to (solely) open loop scrubbers”

Hong Kong Restricted Hong Kong Waters No stated ban on the discharge of waste water. However, use of scrubbers of any kind or other equivalent means in order to comply with the 2020 low sulphur requirements requires an exemption as detailed in the Air Pollution Control (Fuel for Vessels) Regulation, L.N. 135 of 2018.
India No N/A The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

The previous restriction on the discharge of wash water in Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (Circular APSEZL/Marine’16’2020) was revoked by Circular APSEZL/Marine/18/2020 dated 05/11/2020

Ireland Yes Ports of Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Shannon Discharge of waste water is prohibited as per the following notices:

Dublin Port NtM no. 37 of 2018
Port of Waterford Marine Notice of 2 January 2019
Port of Cork NtM no. 15 of 2018
Shannon Foynes Port

Kenya Yes All ports The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Kenya’s National Guidelines for Implementation of IMO 2020 December 2019 include:

7.1. The  discharge  of  wash-water  from  open-loop  scrubbers  is prohibited in  the Kenyan Ports limits. This is to maintain the standard of Kenya marine water quality.

7.2 While in the port of Mombasa, ships fitted with hybrid type of scrubbers shall switch to  the  closed-loop  mode  of  operation.  Ships  fitted  with  open-loop  scrubbers  shall switch over to compliant fuel oil.

Latvia No N/A The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Correspondence with the Maritime Administration of Latvia dated 17/02/2021 clarified that according to national legislation there are no restrictions on discharge of wash water from open loop scrubber systems in Latvia (within the territorial sea of Latvia).

Further correspondence with the Harbour Master Port of Riga dated 16/02/2021 clarified that there are no special rules regulating operation of class approved exhaust gas cleaning system operation in port of Riga, therefore discharge of wash water is allowed in the port.

Lithuania Restricted Territorial waters of Lithuania The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Correspondence with the Deputy Harbour Master of Klaipeda Port dated 18/02/2021 clarified that Lithuanian legislation allows the discharge of wash water from open loop scrubbers within the territorial waters of Lithuania as well as the port of Klaipeda. However, for those using sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) as a main reagent the pH of the discharged water has to be below 8.0. All other chemical reagents alternative to sodium hydroxide is strictly prohibited to discharge in Lithuanian waters and scrubber has to be in closed loop mode.

Malaysia Yes Territorial waters of Malaysia (but see Additional Information re Malacca Strait transits) Marine Department Malaysia Circular MSN 07/2019 confirms the discharge of open loop scrubbers is prohibited 12 nm from the nearest land. However, ships transiting the Malacca Strait and not bound for any Malaysian port are excluded from this ban, as per MSN 08/2019
Mauritius Yes Territorial waters of Mauritius The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Merchant Shipping Notice 2 of 2019 includes:

3.9 …except in the case of innocent passage, ships proceeding to Mauritius or other islands forming part of the territory of Mauritius that use high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) in combination with open-loop scrubber shall changeover from HSFO to compliant fuel oil whenever they enter the territorial waters of Mauritius i.e. within 12 nm from the shore. Environmental legislation presently in force in Mauritius prohibits the discharge of wash water from open-loop scrubber.

Mozambique Yes Prohibited in Nacala Port while restricted on other ports and waters of Mozambique The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

From correspondence with the harbour master of the Port of Maputo dated 18/03/2021 it was informed:

  1. a) Open loop scrubbers are allowed in the Mozambique territorial waters as long as they are working properly and following all the regulations.
  2. b) Within ports, estuaries or bays where the water salinity values fall from the standard ones considered for salt water (1,025 or more), Open Loop Scrubbers are not allowed and the ships must operate using compliant fuel.

From correspondence with the Chief Operating Officer of Nacala Port dated 22/03/2021it was informed that discharge of  wash water is not allowed in the Nacala Port in accordance with Decree 45/2006.

New Zealand No – but discouraged Territorial waters of New Zealand The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Ministry of the Environment’s has issued its “Guidance on the use of Exhaust Gas cleaning Systems (scrubbers) for Ports, Regional Authorities and Ships” While the guidance is not statutory it encourages the industry to take the following measures until work currently underway in respect to the use of scrubbers has been completed.

They request that all  ships carrying scrubbers and operating in New Zealand’s territorial waters engage with the relevant port and regional authorities, and as a precautionary measure that where possible they avoid discharging scrubber effluent close to shore by utilizing alternate options such as:

  1. a) preparing for entry into New Zealand waters by carrying compliant low sulphur fuel in order to use this when operating in sensitive environments, as identified by the relevant regional authorities.
  2. b) operating closed loop scrubber functionality in zero discharge mode and retaining any effluent on board until able to dispose of at the next available port facility.
  3. c) discharging any open loop scrubber wash water outside territorial waters.
Norway Yes The recognised world heritage fjords consisting of the Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord areas As per Section 14b of the Norwegian Maritime Authority’s Regulations of 30 May 2012 No. 488 on environmental safety for ships and mobile offshore units, the use of open loop scrubbers is not permitted in the Norwegian world heritage fjords.
Oman Yes Territorial waters of Oman The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Marine Notice No. 09/2020 includes:

  1. Ships that use open-loop ship exhaust gas- cleaning systems is prohibited from discharging washing water into Omani ports and territorial waters.
  2. Ships that use hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems must switch from the open loop mode to the closed loop mode when they reach the territorial waters and keep the washing residues on board and dispose of them in the designated facilities at the port.
  3. Ships using closed-loop exhaust gas cleaning systems must be keep the washing residues onboard when they reach territorial water and dispose of it at designated facilities at the port.
Pakistan Yes Karachi The Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs (Ports & Shipping Wing) Circular No. 001/2020 confirms that the discharge of wash-water from open-loop scrubbers is prohibited in port (Karachi). While in port, vessels fitted with hybrid scrubbers should switch to the closed-loop mode of operations. Vessels fitted with open-loop scrubbers need to switch over to compliant fuel instead. It is advised that the switch over is carried out well in advance of the ship’s arrival in port waters.
Panama Yes Panama Canal waters Panama Canal Authority (ACP) NT Notice to Shipping No. N1 2020 Section 28 confirms that discharge of open loop scrubber waste water is not permitted, but the use of closed loop systems is permitted.
Portugal Yes Ports of Lisbon, Aveiro, Sines and Leixoes The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

While federal Decree-Law no. 170/B/2014 allows the use of the open loop scrubbers as an alternative option to the compliant fuel, the ports’ administrations can go beyond the federal regulation and apply additional restrictions. Discharge of wash water is not allowed from entry of the port, along the port channel and at berth (moored), until the ship leaves the port.

Qatar Yes Territorial waters of Qatar The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Qatar Petroleum MIC [Mesaieed Industrial City] Port Information and Regulations Guide – January 2020 states:

“As per Environmental Law, wash water originated from open loop scrubbers, containing chemicals and /or metals are prohibited to be discharged in Qatari waters.”

Romania Yes All ports The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Information received from the Romanian Naval Authority dated 30/03/2021 states there is no restriction of using open‐loop scrubbers within Romanian territorial water but  use is forbidden within port limits.

Saudi Arabia Yes All ports The Saudi Ports Authority’s Circular No.(55) 2020 confirms that the discharge of wash water from scrubbers operating in open-loop mode is prohibited within Saudi Arabian ports until further notice.
Singapore Yes Port of Singapore (but see Additional Information re ships transiting the TSS) Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) Port Marine Circular No. 19 of 2019 confirms that the discharge of wash water from scrubbers operating in open-loop mode is prohibited within the Singapore port limit from 1 January 2020. This does not apply to ships transiting the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) without calling into the Port of Singapore.

Further information can be found in the MPA guidance, including details of the expected switch over arrangements if a ship is fitted with a hybrid or open loop system.

Slovenia Yes Territorial waters of Slovenia The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

The Slovenian “Water Act” (Official gaz. no. 67/02)  Article 66, paragraph 4 states:.

“Waste water generated on vessels shall be prohibited from being discharged into waters directly from vessels, except for unpolluted cooling water”.

This prohibiting the use of open loop scrubbers and discharge of its wash water within the territorial waters of Slovenia.

Spain Yes Port of Gijón Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

Information received from the port authorities of the Port of Gijon is that discharge of wash water is not permitted while within the port limits.

Sweden Yes Petroport, Stenungsund, Trelleborg, Gothenburg, Oxelösund The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

That the authorities of the following ports have reported that the discharge of wash water is not allowed:Petroport, Stenungsund – Section 12 of the harbour regulations states that “vessels calling at the Port are not allowed to use Open-loop System for scrubbers”.Port of Trelleborg – Paragraph 29 of the harbour regulations states “…nor is it permitted to discharge scrubber water from onboard treatment plants into the harbour basin”Port of Gothenburg – Item 8.10 of the harbour regulations states that it is not permitted to discharge contaminated water within the port area. Scrubbers used for exhaust gas cleaning are only permitted if operated in closed loop mode.Port of Oxelösund
The harbour regulations states that Open loop generated wash water is not allowed within the port basin.

Trinidad & Tobago Restricted Territorial waters of Trinidad & Tobago The Clean Shipping Alliance advise:

As per Shipping Notice SN5 – 2019 wash water residue generated by EGCS shall be delivered ashore to reception facilities and shall not be discharged to sea or incinerated unless authorization is given.

Turkey Yes Territorial waters of Turkey Our correspondent has issued the following circular after the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization of Turkey announced that wash water discharge is prohibited in Turkish waters. Ships operating with open-loop scrubber will have to switch to low-sulphur compliant fuels when entering / sailing in Turkish waters.
UAE Yes Fujairah The Port of Fujairah’s Notice to Mariners No. 252 confirms that the use of open loop scrubbers is prohibited in port waters. Our correspondent has reported not having received notification of any such ban being in place in other ports in the UAE
USA Restricted US waters subject to the 2013 Vessel General Permit regulations (within 3 NM of US shores) The 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP) section 2.2.26 cover the discharge limits for scrubber wash water and has some variations compared to IMO MEPC 259(68) guidelines. Differences include the pH of the discharged wash water to be no less than 6.0. This to be measured at the ship’s overboard discharge.
USA Restricted State of California California – California Air Resource Board (CARB) regulations prohibits the use of scrubbers within 24nm of the California coast as an alternative air emissions means of compliance. A reminder of the requirements was issued on 21/01/20 at CARB MN 2020-1.
USA Yes State of Connecticut Connecticut – Section 6.5.9 of the 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP) confirms that discharge of wash water into Connecticut waters from any vessel covered under the VGP or small Vessel General Permit (sVGP) is prohibited.
USA Restricted State of Hawaii Hawaii – Section 6.7 of the 2013 VGP states that the conditional section 401 WQC (Water Quality Certification) effectively allows for discharge of wash water in Hawaii, subject to compliance with certain terms stipulated in the same section of the 2013 VGP.