Ballast Water Convention amendments enter into force

Oct 18 2019

Amendments to the IMO’s BWM Convention entered into force on 13th October, 2019.

These amendments formalised an implementation schedule to ensure ships manage their ballast water to meet a specified standard (D-2 standard) aimed at ensuring that viable organisms are not released into new sea areas, and make mandatory the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which sets out how ballast water management systems (BWMS) used to achieve the D-2 standard have to be assessed and approved.

This will help ensure that aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location – and avoid the spread of invasive species as well as potentially harmful pathogens, the IMO said.

In essence, the schedule for implementation means that compliance with the D-2 standard set out in the Convention will be phased-in over time for individual ships, up to 8th September, 2024.

In many cases, meeting the D-2 standard will be achieved through fitting BWMS. There are now many approved systems on the market, ranging from those which use physical methods, such as ultraviolet light to treat the ballast water, to those using active substances (chemicals). Those that use active substances have to go through a thorough additional approval process.

Other amendments to the Convention relate to survey and certification.

The D-2 standard specifies that ships can only discharge ballast water that meets certain criteria, as laid down by the IMO.

Since the Convention entered into force two years ago, ships have been required to manage their ballast water to avoid the transfer of potentially invasive aquatic species.

All ships must have a ship-specific ballast water management plan and keep a ballast water record book. Ships are also required to manage their ballast water to meet either the D-1 ballast water exchange standard or the D-2 performance standard.

The new amendments formalise the implementation schedule for the transition from the D-1 to the D 2 standard, the IMO explained.


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