Ballast Water

Major Dilemma for the Shipping Industry Regarding Ballast Water Management

/ No Comments / 9th May 2015

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From: All About Shipping

The Round Table (RT) of International Shipping Organisations (comprising BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping, Intercargo and INTERTANKO) is deeply concerned if the international convention to regulate ships’ ballast water comes into force in the near future without a realistic implementation schedule that recognises the timetable for US type-approved Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS) to be available in sufficient quantities.

The RT believes that the resulting dilemma would force the international shipping industry to spend millions of dollars on BWMS that may not achieve US type-approval and therefore will need to be replaced in a short period of time.

The RT emphasizes that it supports the need for international requirements to protect local ecosystems from the impact of invasive species carried in ships’ ballast water. The RT also firmly believes that shipping is a global industry requiring global regulation.  The Ballast Water Management Convention is developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and is therefore the best instrument to achieve this objective. The RT expects the Convention will be ratified very shortly and enter into force as early as 2016. Shipowners that have not already done so, will be required to spend between US$1M and US$5M to install a BWMS on each of their ships in accordance with the schedule established in Assembly Resolution A.1088(28). It is estimated that there are 50,000 ships that require to be fitted with BWMS over a 5 year period.

However, this may also create an impossible situation for ships that trade to the United States, where unilateral national regulation is already in force.  The US regulations ultimately require all ships that discharge ballast into US waters (12 miles) to treat this through a US Coast Guard (USCG) approved BWMS. Currently there are a number of BWMS in the USCG testing and approval process, but none that have as yet received type approval. The RT has urged the US Coast Guard to approve as many ballast water management systems as possible, as soon as possible and provide a pragmatic schedule for the installation of such equipment. Further meetings between the RT and senior leaders of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re-emphasised these points.

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