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Recreational boats to become safer and less polluting

Commission Européenne - MEMO/11/542   26/07/2011

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MEMO/11/542

Brussels, 26 July 2011

Recreational boats to become safer and less polluting

The European Commission has proposed today stricter limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons and particulate matters for new motor boats, sailing boats, jet skis and other recreational crafts. In summer NOx concentrations of the some six million recreational craft in the EU can be significant in the areas of big lakes and attractive sea shores. Today’s proposal for a revised Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) will also improve market surveillance, for example by updating the rules on CE marking (see below).

This memo provides information on:

  • The revised exhaust emission limits and on the noise emission limits

  • The new constructional safety requirements

  • Affixing of the CE-marking

The Recreational Craft Directive (94/25/EC) covers recreational craft (motor boats, sailing boats etc), personal watercraft (jet skis), their engines and the components which are not used for commercial purposes. It lays down the safety requirements that manufacturers shall respect when designing and manufacturing craft as well as the limits for exhaust and noise emissions from marine propulsion engines. It also foresees the relevant procedures for demonstrating the conformity of products to these requirements, including the affixing of the CE marking.

1. Exhaust emissions

Stricter limits

  • New stricter limits will come into force for the exhaust emission of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Hydrocarbons (HC) and the Particulates (PT).

  • The CO-limits are slightly relaxed as a result of the significant decrease of other air pollutants and in order to ensure that the compliance costs to industry remain balanced. However, the relaxation does not lead to a health or safety risk.

  • Propulsion engines will be designed and constructed to emit 20% less of HC+NOx emissions and 34% less of particulate matters.

Test cycles

The use of test cycles for assessing the conformity of engines to exhaust emission limits has been clarified.

Noise emission levels

Recreational craft with inboard or stern drive engines without integral exhaust, personal watercraft and outboard engines and stern drive engines with integral exhaust need to be designed, constructed and assembled so that noise emissions do not exceed the current limit values of Level 67 of Maximum Sound Pressure.

What these measures mean for industry

  • A general three year transitional period for the engine manufacturers is needed to adjust their production lines.

  • In addition, as regards exhaust emission requirements, an additional 3 years is granted to SME engine manufacturers who place the SI engines below 15 kW on the market. This is needed in order to allow SMEs operating in this market segment to avoid financial disruption and to adjust their production to the new rules.

2. Design and Constructional safety requirements

The current Directive contains a complete set of requirements ensuring the safety of recreational craft. Some clarifications are made as regards the risk of inversion of multihull craft. The proposal foresees that new habitable multihull craft cannot invert or must have sufficient buoyancy to remain afloat in the inverted position.

A new requirement will be introduced to impose mandatory installation of holding tanks to watercraft fitted with toilets in order to contribute to the marine environmental protection.

Boat design categories

  • Ocean: Designed for extended voyages where conditions may exceed wind force 8 (Beaufort scale) and significant wave heights of 4 m and above but excluding abnormal conditions, and vessels that are largely self-sufficient.

  • Offshore: Designed for offshore voyages where conditions up to, and including, wind force 8 and significant wave heights up to, and including, 4 m may be experienced.

  • Inshore: Designed for voyages in coastal waters, large bays, estuaries, lakes and rivers where conditions up to, and including, wind force 6 and significant wave heights up to, and including, 2 m may be experienced.

  • Sheltered waters: Designed for voyages on sheltered coastal waters, small bays, small lakes, rivers and canals when conditions up to, and including, wind force 4 and significant wave heights up to, and including, 0,3 m may be experienced, with occasional waves of 0,5 m maximum height, for example from passing vessels.

Post construction assessment

The safety of the privately imported boats from the third countries or self-built / re-converted boats will be guaranteed through the application of the appropriate conformity assessment procedure.

3. Affixing of the CE-marking

Rules governing the affixing of the CE marking on the recreational craft, components and engines are laid down in this Directive. Compared with Directive 94/25/EC, it is appropriate to enlarge the obligation to affix the CE-marking also to all inboard engines and stern drive engines without integral exhaust which are regarded as meeting the essential requirements

Furthermore, there are a number of components regulated in the directive:

  • Ignition-protected equipment for inboard and stern drive petrol engines and petrol tank spaces

  • Start-in-gear protection devices for outboard engines

  • Steering wheels, steering mechanisms and cable assemblies

  • Fuel tanks intended for fixed installations and fuel hoses

  • Prefabricated hatches and port lights.

More information:


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