A Voice for Our Ocean

Statement: Ocean Conservancy Applauds IMO Progress to Ban Heavy Fuel Oil Use in the Arctic

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The following statement was issued by Ocean Conservancy’s CEO Janis Searles Jones (@InVeritas_Jones) in reaction to the International Maritime Organization’s commitment to ban heavy fuel oil (HFO) use and carriage for use in the Arctic today:

“Ocean Conservancy applauds progress at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) made towards banning the use of the world’s dirtiest fuel in the Arctic by 2021.

“We call on the IMO to make every effort to adopt and rapidly implement this ban. Heavy fuel oil is already banned in Antarctic waters and it is well past time to put the same protections in in place for the Arctic.

“This type of fuel is a deadly and dangerous pollutant. A spill in icy Arctic waters would be nearly impossible to clean up and would devastate the marine environment and communities that depend on this unique ecosystem. This type of fuel is also a source of harmful air pollutants that contributes to climate change.

“Ocean Conservancy also welcomes the IMO’s commitment to reduce shipping industry greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050. While it falls short of what is needed to meet the goals set by the Paris agreement, this consensus is an enormous step forward. We urge the IMO to prioritize a clear plan of action and short-term management measures.”

“The future of our blue planet depends on bold and swift action to reverse the trends of climate change. Ocean Conservancy remains committed to working with the IMO and other partners to find solutions that protects our ocean and our future.”


Ocean Conservancy experts are available for comment.


  • Plans to develop a ban on heavy fuel oil (HFO) from Arctic shipping, along with an assessment of the impact of such a ban, were agreed upon during the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC72), which concluded in London on April 13, 2018.
  • Measures to implement a ban by 2021 were proposed by eight IMO Member States and supported by other countries during the meeting.
  • The meeting directed a pollution sub-committee to move forward to develop a ban on heavy fuel oil use and carriage for use by ships in the Arctic.

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