The U.S. and Canada are the first nations to propose designating large areas of their coastal waters as Emissions Control Areas (ECA) (download PDF:1.75KB) pursuant to regulations adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) last October. If adopted, this action will affect all large vessels - cruise ships, container ships, tankers and bulk carriers - operating in designated waters. In October 2008, IMO Member States adopted new regulations reducing the sulfur content of ship fuel oil from 4.5 percent to 3.5 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2012, then dropping to 0.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2020. Additionally, member states may adopt even more stringent emission standards for ships operating in designated ECAs.. In ECAs, the sulfur content in fuel may not exceed 1.50 percent prior to July 1, 2010, 1 percent on and after July 1, 2010, and 0.1 percent on or after Jan. 1, 2015. Ships operating in designated ECAs also are required to meet strict NOx emissions controls. If the joint proposal by the U.S. and Canada is approved, the ECA would include waters adjacent to the Pacific Coast of Canada and the U.S., from Mexico to the approaches into Anchorage. In the Atlantic Ocean/Gulf Coast, the proposed ECA extends from Mexico around the Florida peninsula and north to the Canadian border. The ECA also includes waters around the eight main Hawaiian Islands but does not include waters around the smaller Hawaiian Islands, the Aleutian Islands, Western Alaska, the U.S. and Canadian Arctic waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or other U.S. territories in the Pacific. Finally, the ESA boundary would extend 200 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline.