The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) elaborated a proposal to reduce sulphur oxide emissions which was adopted in October 2008. In addition to a general long-term tightening of the specifications for the sulphur content of shipping fuels, the limit for sulphur concentrations in shipping fuels was set even lower in so-called "SOx Emission Control Areas" (SECA).
As a consequence ship operation in SECAs will become disproportionally more expensive compared with shipping outside of SECAs and land transport. The main concern arising from this is a distortion in competition for shipping. In the SECAs, this could lead to a modal shift of cargos towards land transport. This will affect shipping companies as well as ports, which will lose handling volumes and therefore income. This topic was analyzed by ISL on behalf of the VDR Verband Deutscher Reeder and ZDS Zentralverband der deutschen Seehafenbetriebe.