Cruise ship fuel compliance in Sydney Harbour

The Commonwealth Government is responsible for regulating fuel used by cruise ships in Sydney Harbour. Specifications for fuel used by cruise ships in Sydney Harbour are no longer regulated under NSW legislation.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has directed cruise ships to use, when at berth in Sydney Harbour

  • low sulfur fuel with a sulfur content of less than 0.1% or
  • approved air pollution control equipment that reduces emissions to an equivalent level to using low sulfur fuel

Find out more about the direction requiring cruise ships accommodating more than 100 passengers and at berth in Sydney Harbour to use low sulfur fuel (Marine Notice 2018/06).

If you are concerned about the fuel used by cruise ships in Sydney Harbour or the operation of a ship’s air pollution control equipment, phone AMSA on 1800 627 484 or email

Previous regulatory and voluntary requirements for cruise ships in NSW

Following concerns raised by residents living near the White Bay Cruise Terminal, the NSW Government introduced regulatory requirements for the use of low-sulfur fuel by cruise ships in Sydney Harbour in October 2015.

In January 2016, the Commonwealth Government amended the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 which made the NSW Government’s low sulfur requirements inoperative. The cruise shipping industry subsequently voluntarily agreed to continue to use low-sulfur fuel in cruise ships at berth.

EPA officers conducted 163 cruise ship inspections and took 83 fuel samples between October 2015 and November 2016, and found very good compliance with the NSW requirements. 

The Commonwealth Minister for Infrastructure, Darren Chester announced on 1 December 2016 that AMSA would introduce new requirements for cruise ships to use low-sulfur fuel whilst at berth in Sydney Harbour.

Air quality in White Bay Cruise Terminal

To provide information about local ambient air quality around White Bay Cruise Terminal, the Port Authority of NSW (PANSW) maintains an air quality monitoring station near the terminal to measure sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) emissions. The results are compared with national standards in the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure. Read monthly reports and live accounts.


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