Ballast water contains a variety of organisms, such as marine and coastal plants and animals from different regions of the world. If taken up in one place and released in another, some organisms may survive and prosper in their new environment. These “non-native species” can have a serious ecological, economic and public health impact on the receiving environment. To combat the problem of invasive species from ballast water, the IMO adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments in 2004. On 8 September 2016, the convention was finally ratified.
Implementation of the IMO convention
The BWM Convention will enter into force on 8 September 2017 - one year after ratification. The convention stipulates two standards for discharged ballast water. The D-1 standard covers ballast water exchange while the D-2 standard covers ballast water treatment. The convention requires either D-1 or D-2 standard after entry into force.
There will be a transitional period from the entry into force to the IOPP renewal survey in which ballast water exchange (reg. D-1) can be employed. After the first IOPP renewal survey*, vessels will be required to meet the discharge standard D-2. The latter is most commonly met by installing an approved Ballast Water Management System (BWMS). Ships constructed** after entry into force will be required to have a treatment system installed at delivery.
*The renewal survey is the survey according to regulation E-1.2 of the BWM Convention, which is defined as the date of the renewal survey according to MARPOL Annex I, Reg. 6.2 (IOPP) by a separate resolution.
** Constructed means when: the keel is laid, construction identifiable with the specific ship begins, assembly of the ship has commenced comprising at least 50 tonnes or 1 percent of the estimated mass of all structural material, whichever is less, or the ship undergoes a major conversion.
For ship owners and operators, ratification of the convention means that they must have an International BWM Certificate upon entry into force, at the latest.
To obtain the certificate, a vessel must have a BWM Plan addressing procedures for BW exchange, BW treatment or both. If a BWM System is installed, then approved technical documentation for the BW treatment system installation must be available on board. Lastly, a Ballast Water record book is required, and the vessel must employ the chosen ballast water management method from the date that the convention enters into force.