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Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Ballast Water Management and Treatment is now seen as the next big challenge to be resolved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). With an agreement reached at last week’s Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting (MEPC 46), a recommendation will now be put forward to the Council that a Conference be held in the Autumn of 2003 to finalise the Convention on Harmful Aquatic Organisms in Ballast Water.

With attention diverted onto other matters at the meeting, the working group were able to press on with their task and develop standards for ballast water treatment and ballast water exchange. Furthermore they agreed in principle on a draft text for the convention with its Two Tier approach to ballast water management.  Please see below for further information:


This issue was somewhat overshadowed at the meeting owing to the large emphasis on anti-fouling and the 13G/CAS work. The Two Tier System is still the basis of the Convention, with Tier 1 being a level of treatment to be carried out by all ships and Tier 2 being a higher level of treatment to be carried out only when port states require it. There was also an agreement in principle on the articles and a majority of the regulations proposed in a draft convention presented by the USA.

The level of treatment to be expected under Tier 1 of the legislation and the standards of treatment to be attained were the main focus of the working group. As it stands Tier 1 will require ships to either:

·         carry out ballast water treatment to a level of 95% removal, kill or inactivation of the organisms, or;

·         to carry out ballast water exchange effective at a level of 95% volumetric exchange of water.

In the latter case ships may replace the 95%  ballast water exchange requirement with a pumping equivalent to three times the tank volume.  An initial text for a standard on ballast water exchange has also been drafted. This will be included alongside the other treatment standard in the ballast water Code. It is expected that the ballast water Code will be similar to that of the NOx Code developed for Annex VI of MARPOL.

Although Tier 2 requirements were not to be the focus of the discussion, some aspects relating to this were discussed. In particular the right of a port state to exempt ships from the treatment of ballast water that did not present a high risk. Promoted by Australia it is one aspect that is certainly of interest to the industry. However, there was some incentive expressed by members of the working group to exclude this exemption option. Combined with this there was a will to ensure that a full assessment was done on each vessel voyage before a port state could exempt any ship from carrying out ballast water treatment, i.e. a liner or regular service would have to have the risk assessment carried out every time it visited a country’s waters. INTERTANKO in combination with Australia have argued for the removal of the ‘every-voyage’ requirement, which is now in square brackets and will be debated further at the next session.

During the intersessional period INTERTANKO will be involved with a Correspondence Group which will further develop the standards for treatment. INTERTANKO will also be drafting a set of Guidelines to be submitted to IMO on how owners are to apply the Ballast Water Code. This will be based primarily on the Model Plan already developed by INTERTANKO and ICS but will be further enhanced to take into account the regulations contained in the new draft Convention.