ballast


Canadian requirements for ballast water exchange

Since 1997 international vessels on trans-oceanic voyages have been, in support of an initiative started by the Port of Vancouver, exchanging ballast at mid-ocean to mitigate the introduction of invasive aquatic species into our local waters.  New national Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations eventually replaced the program and made it mandatory for all vessels over 400 gt to conduct a mid-ocean or coastal exchange prior to entering Canadian waters from June 2006 as supported under the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship's Ballast Water and Sediments.

With the introduction of steel hulled vessels around 120 years ago, water has been used as ballast to stabilize vessels at sea. Ballast water is pumped-in to maintain safe operating conditions throughout a voyage. This practice reduces stress on the hull, provides transverse stability, improves propulsion and manoeuvrability, and compensates for weight lost due to fuel and water consumption.

The problem of aquatic invasive species in ships’ ballast water is largely due to the expanded trade and traffic volume over the last few decades and since the volumes of seaborne trade continue to increase the problem may not yet have reached its peak. The spread of invasive species is therefore recognized a threats to the ecological and the economic balance of the planet.

Global response to a Global Problem

For this reason, preventing the transfer of invasive species has demanded the cooperation and collaboration of governments, economic sectors, non-governmental organizations and international treaty organizations and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to provide the necessary global framework to address the issue.

The Convention requires all ships to implement a Ballast Water and Sediments Management Plan. All ships must carry a Ballast Water Record Book and are be required to carry out ballast water management procedures to a given standard. Parties to the Convention are given the option to take additional measures which are subject to criteria set out in the Convention and to IMO guidelines.

Approval of ballast water management systems

During the Convention development process, considerable efforts were made to formulate appropriate standards for ballast water management. They are the ballast water exchange standard and the ballast water performance standard. Ships performing ballast water exchange shall do so with an efficiency of 95 per cent volumetric exchange of ballast water and ships using a ballast water management system (BWMS) shall meet a performance standard based on agreed numbers of organisms per unit of volume.

BWM Convention status

The Convention will enter into force 12 months 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage has ratified the document. As of October 2015,  44 States have ratified the Convention, representing 32.89% of world merchant shipping tonnage.

The specific requirements for ballast water management are contained in regulation B-3 Ballast Water Management for Ships:

  • Ships constructed before 2009 with a ballast water capacity of between 1500 and 5000 cubic metres must conduct ballast water management that at least meets the ballast water exchange standards or the ballast water performance standards until 2014, after which time it shall at least meet the ballast water performance standard.
  • Ships constructed before 2009 with a ballast water capacity of less than 1500 or greater than 5000 cubic metres must conduct ballast water management that at least meets the ballast water exchange standards or the ballast water performance standards until 2016, after which time it shall at least meet the ballast water performance standard.
  • Ships constructed in or after 2009 with a ballast water capacity of less than 5000 cubic metres must conduct ballast water management that at least meets the ballast water performance standard.
  • Ships constructed in or after 2009 but before 2012, with a ballast water capacity of 5000 cubic metres or more shall conduct ballast water management that at least meets the ballast water performance standard.
  • Ships constructed in or after 2012, with a ballast water capacity of 5000 cubic metres or more shall conduct ballast water management that at least meets the ballast water performance standard. 

Because there were uncertainties on the immediate availability of ballast water treatment technology to ships to which regulation B-.3.3 would first apply, i.e. ships constructed in 2009, the IMO Assembly adopted, on 29 November 2007, Resolution A.1005 (25) with the aim of postponing the starting date (1st January 2009) set in the Convention for the application of the Regulation D-2 standard. The Resolution established a new deadline, that is, 1st January 2012. In the Resolution, the IMO Assembly recommended that States ratifying the Convention should join with their instrument of ratification a declaration or otherwise communicate to the Secretary-General their intention to apply the Convention on the basis of the following understanding:

“A ship subject to regulation B-3.3 constructed in 2009 will not be required to comply with regulation D-2 until its second annual survey, but no later than 31 December 2011”

Other methods of ballast water management may also be accepted as alternatives to the ballast water exchange standard and ballast water performance standard, provided that such methods ensure at least the same level of protection to the environment, human health, property or resources, and are approved in principle by IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).

Under Regulation B-4 Ballast Water Exchange, all ships using ballast water exchange should:

  • Whenever possible, conduct ballast water exchange at least 200 nautical miles from the nearest land and in water at least 200 metres in depth, taking into account Guidelines developed by IMO;
  • In cases where the ship is unable to conduct ballast water exchange as above, this should be as far from the nearest land as possible, and in all cases at least 50 nautical miles from the nearest land and in water at least 200 metres in depth.

When these requirements cannot be met areas may be designated where ships can conduct ballast water exchange. All ships shall remove and dispose of sediments from spaces designated to carry ballast water in accordance with the provisions of the ships’ ballast water management plan (Regulation B-5).

The convention will come into effect 12 months after 30 countries representing a combined total gross tonnage of more than 35% of the world’s merchant fleet have ratified it. Currently 35 countries representing a combined tonnage of 27.95% of the world’s merchant fleet have ratified the convention as of July 2012.

 

US Ballast Water Management Requirements

The United States Coast Guard has national ballast water management (BWM) requirements under which ships will be required to have onboard ballast water management treatment systems that prevent aquatic invasive species from being shipped into US waters.

The new USCG Regulations 33 CFR Part 151 and 46 CFR Part 162 entered into force on 21 June 2012 and apply to all new ships constructed on or after December 2013 as well as to existing ships from 2014 onwards at certain time intervals (see the complete implementation schedule in the table below).

The USCG has amended its ballast water management regulations by establishing a standard for the allowable concentration of living organisms in ships’ ballast water discharged in US waters. The USCG is also amending its engineering equipment regulations by establishing an approval process for ballast water management systems.

All ships calling at US ports and intending to discharge ballast water must either carry out exchange or treatment, in addition to fouling and sediment management. The exchange of ballast water will only be allowed until the implementation deadlines for treatment systems. A third option is to use potable water (from the US public water system) and in such case the ballast tanks need to be cleaned and sediments removed
beforehand.

In the case of an emergency or malfunction of the treatment system, the USCG may allow the use of ballast water exchange as a contingency.

Treatment must be done using either a USCG type-approved system or a system type approved by another Administration which the USCG has accepted. The USCG treatment discharge standard is the same as the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention D-2 Standard.

Type approval by the USCG

  • The BWM system manufacturer must apply to the USCG for approval.
  • The manufacturer must ensure that the equipment is tested by an independent laboratory – no independent laboratory has yet been approved by the USCG.
  • The equipment must be constructed in accordance with 46 CFR Part 162.
  • The equipment must be tested according to the requirements of the ETV protocol (environmental technology verification).

Alternate Management System

An Alternate Management System (AMS) is an IMO type-approved system that meets the USCG requirements.

Implementation schedule for the USCG ballast water treatment standard

 

Vessel's ballast water capacity

Date constructed

Vessel's compliance date

New vessels

All

On or after 1 December 2013

On delivery

Existing vessels

Less than 1500 m3

Before 1 December 2013

First scheduled drydocking after 1 January 2016

1500 - 5000 m3

Before 1 December 2013

First scheduled drydocking after 1 January 2014

Greater than 5000 m3

Before 1 December 2013

First scheduled drydocking after 1 January 2016

  • The manufacturer must approach the USCG to receive approval for its BWM system as an AMS.
  • A ship with an AMS installed can only use this system for a period of five years beyond the date when the ship would otherwise be required to comply with the USCG discharge standard.
  • Ship types for which the USCG has type approved a suitable treatment system are not allowed to use an AMS.
  • BWM systems which are type approved by DNV are a potential AMS.

Additional requirements

The new USCG regulations also contain some additional requirements to the ship’s operation, which are summarised below:

  • Clean ballast tanks regularly to remove sediments.
  • Rinse anchors and chains when the anchor is retrieved.
  • Remove fouling from the hull, piping and tanks on a regular basis.
  • Maintain a BWM Plan that includes the above in addition to ballast water management (no requirement that the BWM Plan must be approved).
  • Maintain records of ballast and fouling management.
  • Submit a report form 24 hours before calling at a US port.

New California sewage discharge requirements effective from 28 March 2012

The state of California has announced a no-discharge zone (NDZ) for passenger vessels of 300 grt. or more having berths or overnight accommodation, and oceangoing vessels of 300 GRT or more, with available holding tank capacity, or containing sewage generated while the vessel was outside of the marine waters of the state of California. To ensure compliance with these new local rules, shipowners are advised to do the following:

  • Vessels without dedicated sewage holding tank(s) may enter Californian waters and discharge treated sewage from sewage treatment system as before. Vessels without sewage treatment system, only holding tank(s), are not allowed to discharge any sewage to sea inside the NDZ.
  • Vessels with sewage treatment plant and dedicated sewage holding tank(s) (treated or untreated): The ship’s holding tank(s) must be discharged prior to entering California waters. The vessel must refrain from discharging any sewage (treated or untreated) as long as there is remaining holding tank capacity. If the vessel reaches maximum holding tank capacity, discharge of “properly treated sewage” is only allowed through a type-approved sewage treatment system.
  • If the vessel is entering the NDZ with sewage in its holding tank(s), the vessel is not allowed to discharge any sewage to sea (treated or untreated) inside the NDZ.
  • Grey water discharge is not covered by these new local regulations.