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Ballast Water Management

Frequently asked questions

Below you find a collection of FAQs in the fields of convention basics, USCG, local restrictions, technical questions, laid up vessels, FSRU/FSU and tankers.

Click on the questions to read the answers:

Convention basics

Does the Convention apply to all vessels?

Answer:
Answer:
The BWM convention applies to all ships using ballast water in international trade, except:

a. Ships which are not designed or constructed to carry ballast water
b. Ships that only operate in the local waters1 of a single authority, or in local waters of a single authority combined with single voyages to and from international waters. Exceptional single voyages to and from international waters can be granted by the local authority and the vessel’s Flag Administration.
c. War ships, naval auxiliary, or ship owned and operated by a State and used only on Government, non-commercial service, as stated in Article 3.2(d) of the Convention.
d. Ships with sealed or permanent ballast water tanks

1 Some territorial waters may be divided into different ballasting zones, meaning treatment or exchange may be required within the local waters.

What are the requirements for vessels which are subject to the BWM convention?

Answer:
Answer:
a. From date of entry into force (EIF), September 8th 2017, all ships shall have and implement a BWM plan and record all ballast water operations in the BWM record book. The BWM plan shall be approved by the administration.
b. Vessels above 400 GT (excluding floating platforms, FSUs and FPSOs) are subject to a BWM survey and are required to hold a BWM certificate.

What are the requirements for vessels below 400 GT and floating platforms, FSUs and FPSOs?

Answer:
Answer:

As per regulation E-2 of the Convention, the government of the coastal State (for floating platforms, FSUs and FPSOs) or the flag administration (for vessels below 400GT) will determine whether or not the vessel must comply with D-1 (exchange) or D-2 (treatment) regulations. We understand that according to the Convention, such vessels shall be required to have approved BWMP and Record Book. However, if they are reasonably permanently positioned, BWMP and Record Book, it may be asked of the Administration (Shelf State) if the BWMP or Record Book is required. 

The Flag Administration will determine the D-2 compliance date for vessels that do not have an IOPP certificate. The compliance date should not be later than 2022.

What is the BWM Plan?

Answer:
Answer:

The ballast water management plan (BWMP) is the document that details the procedure for discharge of the ballast water and handling of sediment in accordance with regulation D-1 (exchange), and/or regulation D-2 (treatment) and regulation B-5 (sediment management). Conducting ballast water discharge and cleaning of sediments in accordance with the BWMP ensures compliance with regulation D-1 or D-2, and B-5.

This plan must be vessel and equipment specific and approved for each vessel by the Administration. The plan may include procedures for both D-1 and D-2 if the vessel employs both methods. DNV GL has developed a template for Ballast Water Management plan which can be found here.

When do vessels need to carry out ballast water exchange, i.e. comply with regulation D-1?

Answer:
Answer:

From entry into force (8th September 2017), all vessels2 shall conduct BWE in accordance with the approved BWM plan until compliance with the D-2 regulation (treatment) becomes mandatory.   

Regulation B-4 Paragraph 1 of the Convention states that vessels meeting the D-1 standard of exchange shall, whenever possible, conduct exchange at least 200 NM from nearest land at depth of 200m / or if not possible, minimum 50 NM, 200m.  

Further, Regulation B-4.3 states that: “A ship shall not be required to deviate from its intended voyage, or delay the voyage, in order to comply with any particular requirement of paragraph 1.”   

If exchange is possible, but the vessel does not have sufficient time to carry out exchange for all of its ballast water tanks, then the minimum required shall be exchange of the tanks that will be discharged in port (ref. BWM.2/Circ.63 para 3.2).   

If exchange is not/cannot be performed, it shall be noted in the BW Record Book, citing IMO BWMC Regulation B-4.3 and the logistical impossibility of performing exchange on the vessel route.  

If exchange is not/cannot be performed due to extraordinary condition, or if exchange would threaten the safety of the vessel or crew due to adverse weather, equipment failure, ship design or stress, etc., then the Record Book should describe reason and refer to Regulation B-4.4.

2 For which BWM convention is applicable

When do vessels need to comply with the BW discharge standard in accordance with regulation D-2 (treatment)?

Answer:
Answer:

The D-2 standard becomes mandatory for all existing vessels2 after the first IOPP renewal date following the EIF date if: 

  1. the IOPP survey is completed on or after 8 September, 2019, or 
  2. a renewal IOPP survey is completed on or after 8 September 2014 but prior to 8 September 2017.
Furthermore, the vessel should be D-2 compliant upon the second IOPP renewal survey following entry into force, if the first renewal survey following the date of entry into force of the convention is completed prior to 8 September 2019 and if conditions 1 or 2 above are not met.
Vessels keel-laid or underwent major conversion after the EIF date shall comply with the regulation D-2 upon delivery.

2 For which BWM convention is applicable

Does a vessel need to install a ballast water treatment system in order to comply with the regulation D-2?

Answer:
Answer:
The intention of the D-2 regulation (treatment) is to prevent discharge of harmful microorganisms into new locations. However, the Convention is open regarding how this can be archived e.g. discharge of the ballast water to a reception facility, discharge of the distillate water3 prefilled in the ballast tanks, etc.
The port State should have final decision as to whether they accept any equivalent to D-2 and allow discharging in their waters. For the majority of vessels, a treatment system will be the best way to comply with regulation D-2. Such system must be approved by the administration.

3 Upon agreement with the local authorities

I have a ship with a potable/fresh water generator and I would like to use this water as ballast on my ship, will my ship then be in compliance with the Convention?

Answer:
Answer:
This question is not yet clarified in IMO. Regulation B-3 Item 7 accepts other methods of ballast water management as alternatives. However, such methods have to be approved according to MEPC resolution 206(62), which essentially means the alternatives requires type approval according to G8 guidelines.

Do I have to mention both methods, exchange and treatment, in the BWM Plan?

Answer:
Answer:
BWM plan shall be equipment specific, i.e. the plan shall not contain information about treatment system unless ballast water treatment system is installed and in use on board. As part of the approval process for retrofitting a vessel with a BW treatment system, the owner will be required to submit the BWMP for approval with information regarding the treatment system and its application.

What is required to be on board after the EIF date (8th of September 2017)?

Answer:
Answer:
a. The approved BWM plan
b. The BWM record book. All ballast water operation from 8th of September 2017 onwards shall be recorded.
c. International Ballast Water Management (IBWMC) certificate. In cases where the vessels flag state has not ratified the BWM convention, a Statement/Certificate of Compliance must be provided.

My vessel is operating only between several locations e.g. Baltic Sea and North Sea, do I still have to comply with the convention?

Answer:
Answer:
Yes, but the Convention is open for exemption for vessels voyaging only between specified ports or locations within the same risk area. Exemption may be given by the parties in waters under their jurisdiction (local authorities). The exempting parties shall communicate the exemption to the IMO. This exemption can be given for a period of maximum five years and is subject to intermediate review (Regulation A-4). A full overview of the application procedure is given in the Guidelines for Risk Assessment Under Regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention (G7).

Can I use electronic BWM record book for recording my ballast operations?

Answer:
Answer:
In principal, yes, the Convention allows the use of an electronic record book. The BWM record book may be even integrated in to another record book or system on board. It is required that each entry is signed by the officer in charge of the operation and each completed page is signed by the master. An electronic record book must therefore be able to make use of an electronic signature.

I need to do a single voyage between two locations. Can I apply for an exemption?

Answer:
Answer:

A ship operating exclusively under the jurisdiction of one Party to the Convention pursuant to articles 3.2(b) to 3.2(d) may be granted an exemption under reg. A-4 for a single voyage on the condition that the ship performs ballast water exchange in accordance with regulations B-4 and D-1 and an approved Ballast Water Management plan. The requirements of regulation A-4.1.4 (risk assessment) should be addressed to the satisfaction of the countries of origin and destination of the ship.

My ship has a BWM Plan approved to Resolution A.868(20). What do I have to do for my plan to be approved to the G4 Guidelines of the Convention?

Answer:
Answer:
There is no need for re-approval of BWM Plans approved to Resolution A.868(20), as long as the BWM methods described still are applicable for the vessel. DNV GL is able, upon request, to issue a Statement confirming that the BWM Plan also complies with the G4 Guidelines.

What should I do if the treatment system malfunctions?

Answer:
Answer:

When: Before vessel’s D-2 compliance date

Type of BWM certificate on vessel: D-1 certificate

Answer: NA – vessel with approved treatment plant should also have D-2 certification.


When: Before vessel’s D-2 compliance date

Type of BWM certificate on vessel: D-2 certificate

Answer: The vessel must contact the port authority and flag state administration immediately to discuss contingency measures. (See separate question on contingency measures.)

Exchange is a possible contingency measure, but must be carried out with D-1 certification. It is therefore recommended to obtain D-1 certification beforehand.

If time allows, a vessel without D-1 certification may submit a BWMP including exchange for approval to DNV GL.

Once the BWMP is approved, and DNV GL receives the Master’s declaration that the BWM plan is on board, DNV GL can issue a new certificate including D-1. No survey is needed.


When: Before vessel’s D-2 compliance date

Type of BWM certificate on vessel: D-1 + D-2 certificate*

The vessel has the option to carry out ballast water operations either according to D-1 or D-2 standard until the vessel’s D-2 compliance date.

When there is a malfunction of the treatment system, the vessel needs to perform exchange until the ballast water treatment system has been repaired. The vessel does not need to contact the flag state or port authority to perform exchange.**

*Contact DNV GL with the nature of the BWTS’s malfunction. The Convention requires a survey before a repaired BWTS can recommence operation. DNV GL will determine if a survey is required.

**If the vessel also has the Class notation BWM(T) or the Clean design notation and the treatment system malfunctions, the vessel owner must inform Class as soon as the BWTS is taken out of service.


When: After vessel’s D-2 compliance date

Type of BWM certificate on vessel: D-1 certificate

Answer: NA – vessel must perform treatment after D-2 compliance date. The D-1 certificate will no longer be relevant.


When: After vessel’s D-2 compliance date

Type of BWM certificate on vessel: D-2 certificate

Answer: The vessel must contact the port authority and flag state administration immediately to discuss contingency measures. (See separate question on contingency measures.) 

D-1 may be offered as a contingency measure, but cannot be performed without permission from the port authority and flag state.

The vessel must obtain D-1 certification before proposing exchange as a contingency measure.


When: After vessel’s D-2 compliance date

Type of BWM certificate on vessel: D-1 + D-2 certificate

Answer: The vessel must contact the port authority and flag state administration immediately to discuss contingency measures. (See separate question on contingency measures.) 

The vessel is not allowed to discharge ballast water without permission from the port authority and the flag state administration, even with D-1 certification.


When travelling in US waters

Type of BWM certificate on vessel: D-1 certificate

Answer: The USCG treatment discharge requirements have already entered into force.

A vessel must have applied for an extension in treatment compliance from USCG in order to operate with exchange only.


When travelling in US waters

Type of BWM certificate on vessel: D-2 certificate

Answer: The USCG requires that the BWMP contain vessel-specific contingency methods. The BWMP should also include procedures for contacting the Captain of the Port (COTP) and reporting to the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse (NBIC) in the event of a BWTS malfunction.

The vessel must contact US authorities as soon as possible, and ask for instructions. US regulations require that the vessel inform the nearest COTP, but it is recommended that the destination COTP is also informed.

More information on contingency measures in the US can be found here.

The vessel must obtain D-1 certification before proposing exchange as a contingency measure.


When travelling in US waters

Type of BWM certificate on vessel: D-1 + D-2 certificate

Answer: See above for the protocols for contacting US authorities.

D-1 can be offered as a contingency measure. It is the decision of the USCG to accept or reject such a proposal.

In case of treatment system malfunction, what contingency measures does IMO recommend the vessel operator to consider?

Answer:
Answer:

IMO has established a generic guidance in BWM.2/circ.62 for situations where ballast water to be discharged from a ship is determined to be non-compliant. In such cases, communication between the ship and the port State should occur. The ship and the port State should consider the following as possible contingency measures on a case-by-case basis:

  1. actions predetermined in the Ballast Water Management plan of the ship;
  2. discharging ballast water to another ship or an appropriate shipboard or land-based reception facility, if available;
  3. managing the ballast water or a portion of it in accordance with a method acceptable to the port State;
  4. ballast water exchange carried out to an approved plan in accordance with regulation B-4 to meet the standard in regulation D-1. The ship and the port State should consider the potential disruption to the cargo handling operation plan of the ship and the potential impact to relating parties including port operators and cargo owners; or
  5. operational actions, such as modifying sailing or ballast water discharge schedules, internal transfer or ballast water or the retention of ballast water on board the ship. The port State and the ship should consider any safety issues and avoid possible undue delays.

Having considered all options above, the ballast water may be discharged in the port or any suitable area, as acceptable to the port State. Port state consideration may include environmental, safety, operational and logistical implications of allowing or disallowing the discharge. The discharge of ballast water is subject to any conditions of the port State. In any case, the ship is required to do its best to correct malfunction of the Ballast Water Management system as soon as possible and submit its repair plan to the port State control authorities and the flag State.

Do I need to discharge ballast water in accordance with the regulations D-1 or D-2 and do the records in the BWM record book if my vessel is trading in the waters of non-signatory countries / under the non-signatory flag?

Answer:
Answer:
The Ballast Water Management convention is international. And even if there are number of countries that have not ratified the convention and do not require a vessel to fulfill the requirements, DNV GL recommends following the convention at any time to avoid possible comments from PSC of the signatory state.

Are there additional requirements beyond the convention in certain countries?

Answer:
Answer:
Yes, some countries, such as Ukraine, have stricter requirements than those listed in the convention. DNV GL recommends clarifying local requirements prior to conducting discharge of the ballast water in a new port.

Are there any limitations / local prohibition for chemical treatments systems?

Answer:
Answer:

The type approval process covers the possibilities of toxic discharge according to the IMO and/or USCG standards. Chemical treatment systems are required to satisfy minimum toxicity requirements like all BWTSs.  

The requirements related to toxic discharge for different US states are addressed in the 2013 VGP and the US EPA’s Generic Protocol for the Verification of Ballast Water Treatment Technology, known as the ETV Protocol.  

USCG

How does a vessel sailing in US waters comply with USCG requirements?

Answer:
Answer:
Vessels may meet the USCG discharge standard in one of five ways:

1. Use a USCG type-approved BWTS
2. Temporarily use a foreign type-approved BWMS that the USCG has accepted as an Alternative Management System (AMS);
3. Use and discharge ballast water obtained from a US public water system;
4. Discharge ballast water to a reception facility;
5. Refrain from discharging waters with within 12 nautical miles of the US coast.

It is also possible to apply for an extension, but the vessel’s management must document that none of the options above are viable.

Except USCG, are there any other special local regulations in the US?

Answer:
Answer:
Some territorial waters may be divided into different zones for exchange. An exhaustive list of special regulations is not available, and additional regulations may be subject to change now that the Convention has been ratified. It is recommended that vessel operators contact the relevant flag administrations. 

The US is the only country which requires type approved systems that satisfy a standard other than that IMO. 

Certain states have specific ballast water requirements: 

Arizona 
California 
Connecticut 
Hawaii 
Illinois 
Indiana 
Minnesota 
Michigan 
Maine 
New York 
Ohio 
Oregon 
Rhode Island 
Vermont 
Washington 
Wisconsin 

With the exception of Oregon, the requirements of these states are found in the 2013 VGP.

Are there any special regulations in Californian waters?

Answer:
Answer:
The discharge requirements for ballast water in California are stricter than federal requirements. However, no treatment systems are available which can satisfy the California requirements, and the compliance is not currently required.

Technical questions

Is it true that species impacted by UV irradiation are able to reproduce within a few days after treatment?

Answer:
Answer:
The main mode of action of UV irradiation is to damage the organisms’ genetic material (DNA and RNA) so that they are not able to reproduce. Common to the filtration + UV technology based systems used for treatment of ballast water is that while the filter component mainly has effect on the >50 micron organisms, UV affects all organisms but with the highest impact on those in the 0-50 micron sized range , mainly algea, due to the size related penetration depth. Algae that are irreversibly damaged by UV appear to be “live”, even if they are doing nothing useful and they are not able to reproduce. Without any reproductive capability, colonization of a new environment is not possible.

Laid up vessels

I have a vessel that is laid up, what are my options?

Answer:
Answer:

For vessels laid up for longer periods (cold layup) all statutory certificates are not maintained by periodical surveys, while the class status is maintained by periodical surveys with a limited scope. In the background and in the DNV GL systems, the normal survey schedule is dormant and will be reinstated with the original dates after the layup by performing the periodical surveys which will be due at that time. 

In relation to the implementation of the BWM convention this could lead to the need for the installation of the BWM treatments system (D-2 Compliance) immediately after the layup. Alternative options to provide increased flexibility for the D-2 compliance date might be considered, e.g. advancement of IOPP renewal to before Entry into force of the convention 8th of September 2019. 

Such cases would require an individual evaluation and a consultation with and a case by case decision by the flag state administration.

If I have a vessel that is laid up, can I get a single voyage declaration?

Answer:
Answer:
Such declaration/exemption will be subject to the port state and flag state in question. (See question ‎"I need to do a single voyage between two locations. Can I apply for an exemption?" under Convention basics).

Questions for specific vessel types

I have a ship lying as FSU, FSRU or similar, what are my options with respect to installation of treatment plants?

Answer:
Answer:
Tankers operating as Floating Storage Units (FSU) and Floating and Regasification Units (FSRU) and the like may be exempted from the BWM operation and construction requirements. The Flag determines if they are exempted from compliance with the Convention. (See Question 1.1). 

If an owner would like to change the status of these vessels to a normal seagoing vessel (s)he needs to consider that such a change could lead to the need for the immediately installation of a BWM system. Alternative options to provide increased flexibility for the D-2 compliance date might be considered, e.g. advancement of IOPP renewal to before Entry into force of the convention. 

Such cases would require an individual evaluation and a consultation with and a case by case decision by the flag state administration and the administration of the shelf state.

I have a fishing vessel with a Refrigerated Sea Water (RSW) tank. Is the water in the RSW tank subject to treatment?

Answer:
Answer:

RSW tanks are not considered as ballast tanks as defined by the BWM Convention. However, if the vessel is using RSW tanks also for stability purposes with only ballast water inside the tanks, it meets the definition of a ballast tank according to the BWM Convention.     

The below is DNV GL interpretation on how fishing vessels may comply with the BWM Convention. DNV GL recommends to enquire to the Flag of the vessel on this requirement. 

  1. The RSW tanks when used as ballast tanks, can only discharge according to the D-1 (exchange) or D-2 (treatment) effluent standards.
  2. When in RSW mode (i.e. containing fish), those are cargo tanks and no consideration for discharge with regard to the BWM Convention needs to be taken.
  3. All other ballast tanks, anti-roll tanks etc. must follow the BWM Convention as usual.
  4. Such ships would need a BW treatment system installed. Administrations/Class should require a BWM Plan that in detail explains to the captain when he must use the treatment system or not.
  5. The total ballast water capacity as defined in Regulation A-1.2 must include the RSW tanks for ships that use them as ballast water tanks in some conditions.

Do MOUs need to carry out BW discharge in accordance with the regulations D-1 or D-2 as well?

Answer:
Answer:

Yes, MOU are affected by the convention as soon as they move to a new location4 (in- transit condition). However, while operating within the local waters of the authority vessels can apply for exemption from all requirements of BWM convention based on the Article 3.2 of the BWM convention. Authorization shall be granted by the local authority, vessel flag administration has to be informed.

4 New location is not the original location of the ballast water and sediments in the ballast water (defined by the local authorities).

I have a pleasure craft, or a craft used primarily for search and rescue, less than 50m in length overall and with maximum ballast water capacity of 8m3. Will my ship be required to comply with the Convention?

Answer:
Answer:
Yes, Regulation A-5 of the Convention allows equivalent compliance with the requirements, but no exceptions. Equivalent compliance must be determined by the Administration taking into account the G3 Guidelines: Guidelines for ballast water management equivalent compliance.

What about water ballast carried in the cargo tank of the oil tanker, does it need to be treated?

Answer:
Answer:
No, during the MEPC.70 it was concluded that such cases will be covered only by MARPOL Annex I and there will be no amendment for the BWM Convention.
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