USCG Rule on Ballast Water Discharges

On March 23, 2012, the USCG issued Rule regarding Standards for Living Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters, amending the existing ballast water management (“BWM”) regulations and creating a standard for the allowable concentration of living organisms in ballast water discharged in U.S. waters consistent with the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (“BWM Convention”).

The USCG has issued on 08 June 2012 its Final Rule on Ballast Water Management. The Rule enters into force on 21 June 2012. Implementation dates for ballast water treatment systems do not become effective until 1 December 2013 for new buildings and 1 January 2016 for existing vessels. Still there are requirements which enter into force from 21 June such as the presence of a Ballast Water Management Plan on board, operators should also take into account the requirement for biofouling maintenance procedures within the Ballast Water Management Plan.

The Final Rule requires all vessels equipped with ballast tanks and bound for or departing U.S. ports, with certain exemptions, to utilize one of the following BWM methods:

  1. Install and operate a BWMS that has been approved by the Coast Guard.
  2. Use only water from a U.S. public water system as ballast water. Vessels using water from a U.S. public water system must meet certain tank cleanliness requirements and use such water exclusively.
  3. Perform complete ballast water exchange in an area 200 nautical miles from any shore prior to discharging ballast water unless the vessel is required to employ an approved BWMS. An alternative management system (“AMS”) may also be used so long as it was installed on the vessel prior to the date the vessel is required to comply with the BWDS.
  4. Do not discharge ballast water into U.S. waters.
  5. Discharge all ballast water to an onshore facility or another vessel for treatment.

Information regarding the Final Rule of USCG on ballast water discharges can be found on the following links:

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