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Ballast Water Conventions

The responsibility of preventing bio-invasion from ballast water falls on vessel owners and operators.

This requirement is guided and enforced by the International Maritime Organization. The IMO adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments in 2004, also known as the Ballast Water Management Convention or BWM Convention.

To help curb the spread of invasive aliens and pathogens (germs), the convention or treaty states that vessels must remove or render harmless any form of water-borne life and germs present in ballast water, before releasing that water elsewhere.

Every ship needs a plan

The convention entered into force globally on 8 September 2017. Since then, vessels sailing in international waters are required to manage their ballast water and sediments according to the standard prescribed by a ballast water management plan. Such a plan must be drawn up specifically for each vessel.

If you’re sailing in international traffic, your ship needs to have the following on board, according to the IMO’s website:

  • A ballast water management plan.
    “Specific to each ship, the ballast water management plan includes a detailed description of the actions to be taken to implement the ballast water management requirements and supplemental ballast water management practices;
  • A ballast water record book.
    To record when ballast water is taken on board; circulated or treated for ballast water management purposes; and discharged into the sea. It should also record when ballast water is discharged to a reception facility and accidental or other exceptional discharges of ballast water; and
  • An International Ballast Water Management Certificate (ships of 400 gross tonnage and above).
    This is issued by or on behalf of the Administration (flag State) and certifies that the ship carries out ballast water management in accordance with the BWM Convention and specifies which standard the ship is complying with, as well as the date of expiry of the Certificate.”

Regulation D-2 of the IMO’s latest, revised G8 standard requires ships to comply with the following:

  • Each cubic meter (264 US gallons) of ballast water must contain less than 10 viable organisms which are bigger than or equal to 50 microns (about half the width of a human hair.)
  • The ballast water must contain less than 10 viable organisms that are smaller than 50 microns but bigger than or equal to 10 microns per millilitre (ml).
  • Maximum amounts are specified for the following microbes: Vibrio Cholerae – less than 1 colony forming unit (CFU) per 100 ml; E. Coli – less than 250 CFU per 100 ml; and Enterococci – less than 100 CFU per 100 ml.

Rest assured, if your ballast water has been treated to these specifications, it is pure enough to be discharged it almost any port around the globe.

To help ship owners and operators become and remain compliant with the IMO treaty, MR Ballast provides servicing and also upgrades for ballast water treatment systems made by leading manufacturers such as De Nora, WECOSCO and others.