In 1997 the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted MARPOL Annex VI to prevent air pollution by shipping emissions. It regulates, among other issues, the sulfur content in shipping fuels, which is transformed into the air pollutant sulfur dioxide (SO.sub.2) during combustion. Within designated Sulfur Emission Control Areas (SECA), the sulfur content was limited to 1 %, and on 1 January 2015, this limit was further reduced to 0.1 %. Here we present the set-up and measurement results of a permanent ship emission monitoring site near Hamburg harbour in the North Sea SECA. Trace gas measurements are conducted with in situ instruments and a data set from September 2014 to January 2015 is presented. By combining measurements of carbon dioxide (CO.sub.2) and SO.sub.2 with ship position data, it is possible to deduce the sulfur fuel content of individual ships passing the measurement station, thus facilitating the monitoring of compliance of ships with the IMO regulations. While compliance is almost 100 % for the 2014 data, it decreases only very little in 2015 to 95.4 % despite the much stricter limit. We analysed more than 1400 ship plumes in total and for months with favourable conditions, up to 40 % of all ships entering and leaving Hamburg harbour could be checked for their sulfur fuel content.