Ballast Water Convention

Over the last thirty years there has been an exponential growth in international ship traffic, with an increasing number of vessels adopting the practice of carrying seawater as ballast as an effective and cost effective alternative to fixed ballast. This change in practice has come at a price. It has now been identified as one of the greatest threats to local maritime environments through the accidental introduction of invasive species following the discharge of ballast water.

To address this issue the international community adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship Ballast Water and Sediments [BWM] in February 2004. The stated aim of the Convention was to regulate the discharge of ballast water and prevent, or at least reduce, the risk of non-native species being transported across the globe and introduced, with damaging consequences, into new marine ecosystems. The Convention has established international standards and procedures for the management and control of ballast water carried in ballast tanks.

Although adopted in 2004, the Convention will come into force on 8 September 2017.

The Convention applies to all vessels that are engaged in international trade and which carry dedicated ballast water, subject to our comments below on recreational vessels. Excluded from the Convention’s scope are vessels that are not designed to carry ballast water, vessels with sealed or fixed ballast and vessels only operating in local waters.

Vessels within the scope of the Convention are required to have in place a BWM plan. This plan describes the procedures that are specific to that vessel for the control and discharge of ballast water and sediment in accordance with the following:

Regulation D-1 relating to ballast water exchange; and/or Regulation D-2 applicable to the treatment of ballast water; and Regulation B-5 concerning the management of the sediment contained in the ballast water.

In addition to the BWM plan, a BWM record book must be prepared to record all future ballast water operations.

All BWM plans are required to be submitted and approved by the vessel’s flag state or classification society.

On the Convention coming into force, all vessels within its scope are required to conduct ballast water exchange [BWE] in accordance with the approved BWM plan, until compliance with regulation D-2 [treatment] becomes mandatory. Vessels are not required to comply with regulation D-2 until the first renewal of the IOPP certificate after 8 September 2017.

Vessels of 400GT or more are also subject to a BWM survey and are required to hold an International Ballast Water Management Certificate [IBWMC].

The Convention allows flag states to apply for equivalent compliance for recreational vessels under 50 metres in length, with a ballast water capacity of less than 8m3. Vessels that are granted  equivalence will not be required to meet all the Convention’s requirements, but will need to implement precautionary procedures to minimize the uptake and transfer of harmful aquatic organisms.

Rosemont Yacht Services & Management has a wealth of knowledge and experience to advise on the requirements of the Convention, whether they are applicable to your vessel and can assist you to meet these obligations. Please contact Shelley Dowie at Rosemont Yacht Management safety@rosemont-yacht.com

By Rosemont

Go back