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Implementation of ballast water management convention -Ship requirements

The International Convention for The Control and Management of Ship's Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) was adopted in 2004 to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another. The BWM Convention requires all ships to meet standards and procedures for the management and control of ships' ballast water and sediments. The BWM Convention enters into force on 8 September 2017.

Exemptions: The BWM Convention applies to all vessels except:

containerships operational matters
Oil Tanker Safety Guide
Parties to the convention may grant a risk-assessed exemption of up to 5 years to ships that meet Reg's conditions. A-4. A ballast water management plan must be approved by the Government of State under whose authority the ship operates (Administration). It is specific to each ship and includes a detailed description of the actions to be taken to implement the Ballast Water Management requirements and additional practices.

Ship Requirements

The BWM Convention required all ships over 400 GT to undergo a survey by 8 September 2017 to: Ships sailing under Flags which have not ratified the convention should receive Statements of Compliance. Section B of the BWM Convention requires ships to meet specific requirements. Ballast Water Management Plan (Reg B-1): Must be approved by the Government of State under whose authority the ship operates (Administration). It is specific to each ship and includes a detailed description of the actions to be taken to implement the Ballast Water Management requirements and additional practices.

ballast water treatment plant
Ballast water treatment plant

Ballast Water Record Book (Reg B-2): To record when ballast water is taken on board, circulated or treated for BWM purposes and discharged into the sea/reception facility.

Ballast Water Treatment System (Reg B-3, D-2): Must be fitted and approved and meet the discharge standards specified in Regulation D-2, by the dates specified in Regulation B-3.

Ballast Water Exchange (Reg B-4): Where Ballast water exchange is allowed by the regulations, this shall be conducted at least 200 nautical miles from the nearest land and in water 200 meters in depth. Where this is not possible, the exchange should take place as far from the nearest land as possible (at least 50 nautical miles and 200 meters in depth). However, a ship shall not be required to deviate from its intended voyage, delay the trip, and comply with these requirements.

Ballast Water Management Standards

Annex D of the BWM Convention specifies standards for: Ballast Water Exchange (Reg. D-1): You must replace at least 95% of the ballast water. If the exchange involves pump-through of ballast tanks, at least three times the volume should be pumped through each tank. A transaction may not always be possible because safe and effective ballast water exchange at sea depends on weather and sea conditions. There may be a residue of organisms in the water, which will cause issues if a vessel discharge closer to land, particularly if tanks are allowed to silt up extensively. At no time when undertaking ballast water exchange should the stability of the vessel be impaired.

Ballast Water Performance (Reg. D-2): Ballast water exchange at sea is not considered an ideal method of Ballast Water Management, however efforts are being made to develop treatment methods to comply with the BWM Convention Regulation D-2 Regulation D-2 specifies that treated and discharged ballast water must be within limits set in the table.

Timeline for Vessel's Equipment

Regulation B-3 specifies the timeline for ships to meet the standards. All vessels must comply with the D-2 requirement by the next renewal date for the IOPP Certificate, after the 8th September 2019 (two years after the time the regulation comes into force). When does a ship have to meet the standards? : To meet the standards, the ship must be fitted with an approved Ballast Water Treatment System at her next IOPP Certificate renewal.

Ballast Water Management Type-Approval

Regulation D-3 requires Ballast Water Management systems to be type-approved by the Government of the State under whose authority the ship operates (Administration).

Testing : Tested in a land-based facility and on board ships to prove that it meets the D-2 performance standard.These include systems which:
  1. use chemicals or biocides
  2. use organisms or biological mechanisms
  3. use filtration
  4. use irradiation
  5. alter the chemical or physical characteristics of the ballast water
  6. use a combination of the above.
Use of Active Substances : Chemicals or biological agents (Active Substances), which are used to treat the ballast water on board, must not pose an unreasonable risk to the environment, human health, property or resources. IMO approval is required for a BWTS to use Active Substances. Flag approval is necessary if a BWTS does not use Active Substances.

Guidelines :Guideline 8 provides an Administration with technical specifications and guidelines on how to assess if a Ballast Water Management System meets Regulation D-2 and determine if a Type Approval Certificate should be issued.

Ballast water sampling bottle


The IMO's guidance on ballast water sampling and analysis is given in the G2 Guidelines. The purpose of this guidance is to provide general recommendations on methodologies and approaches to sampling and analysis to test for compliance with the standards described in regulations D-1 and D-2 of the BWM Convention.

Related info :
  1. Marine environment protection recommended guideline

  2. Ballast water management convention recommended guideline for environmental protection

  3. Pollution by ballast water

  4. Impact of ballast water at marine environment

  5. Ballast water management USCG final rules

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