IMO Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention
In July 2017, the IMO issued BWC.2/Circ.62, ‘Guidance on Contingency Measures under the BWM Convention’. This is generic guidance for situations where ballast water to be discharged from a ship is non-compliant.
The goal of this guidance is to support ships and Port States in applying practical measures in the case of a ship unable to manage ballast water in accordance with its approved Ballast Water Management Plan.
US Coast Guard (USCG)
For vessels equipped with an inoperable ballast water management system (BWMS) and operating in US waters, the US Coast Guard (USCG) issued, in February 2018, CG-CVC Policy Letter 18-02, ‘Guidelines for evaluating potential courses of action when a vessel bound for a port in the United States has an inoperable ballast water management (BWM) system’.
The United States is not a Party to the IMO’s BWM Convention, so vessels discharging ballast water into the waters of the US must comply with the requirements of Title 33 CFR 151 Subparts C and D, as applicable.
A vessel that has passed its compliance date and has an inoperable BWMS may use one of the other BWM methods outlined in Title 33 CFR 151.2025(a):
- Use and discharge ballast water obtained exclusively from a US Public Water System (PWS).
- Perform complete Ballast Water Exchange (BWE) in an area 200 nautical miles from any shore prior to discharging ballast water.
- Do not discharge ballast water into waters of the United States (includes the territorial sea as extended to 12 nautical miles from the baseline).
- Discharge ballast water to a reception facility onshore or to another vessel for purposes of treatment.
If the vessel intends to use BWE, it must obtain approval from the District Commander or Captain of the Port (COTP) first.
The USCG also published NVIC 01-18 (March 2018) to provide the latest guidance on the ballast water regulatory amendments.
What should owners and operators do now?
Owners and operators are invited to bring this to the attention of those involved in operating and maintaining the BWM systems and those involved in the process of maintaining the BWM Plans.
Intertanko has published ‘Ballast Water Contingency Measures for Tankers’, which is a document providing guidance on practical contingency measures – together with the procedures recommended – that may be considered in the event of a BWM system failure and indications of what to expect from vessels in such circumstances. The guidance has been drafted in order to address the different expectations of Party States to the IMO’s BWM Convention, as well as the USCG, and is free to Members and available to download here.