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Thursday, September 10, 2020 

A study commissioned by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) into the use of scrubbers in the country's waters and ports has been delayed due to the pandemic, which means the decision on whether or not to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers has been delayed until at least the end of 2020

SAMSA had previously notified its intention to commission the study from a local university. The study began earlier this year, and was expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter, but Covid-19 has meant that the full results of the study may not be available until December, so SAMSA's review, which could result in a possible ban on the use of open-loop scrubbers, will now take place no earlier than the end of the year.

SAMSA has therefore issued a Marine Notice (No. 42 of 2020) as an update, in which it confirms that, for the time being, any approved exhaust gas cleaning system under MARPOL Annex VI may continue to be used by vessels in South African waters. The notice includes a detailed list of wash water discharge criteria, under which the use of some designs of scrubber may not be permitted in future.

The notice reminds ship operators that under MARPOL regulations:


  • Masters should immediately inform the Authorities should there be a breakdown of the EGCS.
  • Masters are reminded to adhere to the requirements of Marine Notice 9 of 2019 in terms of Fuel Oil Non-Availability Reports (FONAR).
  • All records must be made available during Port State Control Inspections.
  • The National Port Authority may require the master to provide evidence that a complaint EGCS is onboard.


The notice includes a breakdown of the means by which vessels in South African ports complied with the 0.5% sulphur limit over a four-month period from April to July 2020 inclusive. In the busiest month, May, out of a total of 723 ships, 120 were equipped with scrubbers, the remainder using compliant fuel or other means. Of the 120 scrubber-equipped vessels, 107 had open-loop scrubbers; the numbers were broadly similar in the other months.

SAMSA Marine Notice 42/2020 The use of Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS) in South African waters and Ports, can be viewed in full here.

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