On March 1, U.S. ports and ports around the world began to tighten their oversight and started enforcing the International Maritime Organization's 2020 low-sulfur fuel regulation, according to today's U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, Grain Transportation Report.

The regulation lowered the maximum allowed sulfur content of fuel from 3.5% to 0.5% and officially took effect Jan. 1. However, ships were given a grace period while the industry transitioned. As of March 1, any ships burning or storing high-sulfur, noncompliant fuel may be detained and penalized. Penalties may include a “Notice of Violation” by the Coast Guard and fines between $2,000 to $10,000. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may assess civil penalties of over $75,000 per violation per day, according to American Shipper.

The USDA also reported today that for the week ending Feb. 29, barge grain movements totaled 408,595. This was a 3% increase from the previous week and a 71% increase over the same period last year. For the week ending Feb. 29, 263 grain barges moved down river — 10 barges more than the previous week. There were 479 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 9% fewer than the previous week.

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.