Overview

More than 90 percent of global trade is transported by sea, and each year transfers of up to 12 billion tonnes of ballast water take place around the world because of this. Ballast water is used to maintain the stability and trim of vessels, and to ensure their structural integrity. It is typically pumped in as cargo is unloaded and discharged as cargo is being placed on board.

Ballast water that is taken on in one ecological zone and discharged into another can introduce invasive (i.e.: non-native) aquatic organisms that can have a big detrimental impact on the local biodiversity, economy and even the health of local communities.

Bio invasion is one of the four greatest threats facing the world’s oceans today, alongside land-based sources of marine pollution, the overexploitation of living marine resources and the physical alteration and destruction of marine habitats.

The proper treatment of ballast water, as required by the IMO and the relevant authorities in the USA, actively removes, kills or neutralises organisms prior to discharge. Ballast water treatment differs from the older conventional process of ballast water exchange, which involves completely flushing the ballast water tanks while underway.

The proper treatment of ballast water, as required by the IMO and the USA authorities, actively removes, kills and/or neutralises organisms prior to discharge.

BWT REGULATIONS

General Regulations

The USA began enforcing its ballast water regulations through the US Coastguard (USCG) in June 2012. The IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention will come into full effect on the 8th of September 2017. In addition, a few other national bodies introduced special regulations in response to their unique concerns.

When the IMO Convention comes into effect on the 8th of September 2017, all ships trading in international waters will be required to manage their ballast water on every voyage by exchanging it according to the so-called D-1 standard set out in the IMO convention. After a ship’s first IOPP-certificate renewal-survey after the 8th of September 2017, treatment (rather than exchange) is mandatory. Treatment is specified in the D-2 standard of the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention and must be carried out by certified equipment.

Under the IMO regulations, some 60,000 vessels are going to need ballast water treatment solutions in the short-term. Most of these vessels are expected to comply by installing a fixed ballast water treatment system on board.

IMO Ballast Water Management Convention

The IMO adopted the Ballast Water Management Convention in February 2004. It was set to enter into force 12 months after ratification by thirty nations that together represent 35% or more of the world’s total merchant shipping tonnage. This date is now known: Friday the 8th of September 2017.

The Convention requires that ballast water must be treated - to specify D2 standards - before it is discharged. All vessels built before the date of entry into force of the BWMC, must install a Type Approved system at the first renewal of the IOPP certificate.

USCG ballast water discharge standards and the USEPA Vessel General Permit (VGP)

Vessels sailing in U.S. waters will be required to comply with USCG ballast water discharge standards and the USEPA Vessel General Permit (VGP), in addition to State ballast water regulations.

The USCG’s final rule is a ballast water discharge standard which is essentially the same as that adopted by the IMO in 2004. In addition, the USEPA 2013 Vessel General Permit has adopted numeric limits within the permit that also align with the USCG rule.

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