USCG to impose fines for failure to submit mandatory ballast water reports

This week the United States Coast Guard (USCG) announced the final rulemaking regarding mandatory ballast water reporting, introducing fines of up to USD 27,500 for ships failing to submit a ballast water reporting form.

Effective from 13 August 2004, the reporting regulations apply to all vessels with ballast tanks entering US waters. Although mandatory reporting has been in effect since 1999, the USCG was forced to impose the penalty system due to the low compliance rate for submitting these forms. The rulemaking also encompasses a more detailed requirement for record keeping. Details of this expanded record-keeping are found in the Federal Register 32870 and 32871 (69 Fed. Reg. 32864). All reporting is to be made 24 hours prior to the vessel’s arrival.

Note that the penalties for failure to conduct the ballast reporting and management requirements may also be levied upon individual crew members as well as on the company.

In addition to the national requirements, penalties will also be imposed for failure to meet mandatory ballast water management requirements for those vessels bound for the Great Lakes or portions of the Hudson River. However, it was noted in the Federal Register that the USCG did not intend to deny entry into the Great Lakes if reporting forms had not been submitted.

These new rules follow other initiatives established in the U.S. to improve protection against unwanted alien species carried in ships’ ballast water as reported in Weekly NEWS No. 20 of 14 May 2004 and No. 01 & 02 of 9 Jan 2004.

Contact: Tim Wilkins