IMO adopts new ballast guidelines

Ballast Water Management

A primary task before this session was to complete Ballast Water Management Convention assessment. The committee agreed ships built on or after Jan. 1, 2009, must comply with the Convention when traveling to, or within the jurisdictional waters of, states that have ratified it.

The extent of retroactivity of the compliance date for ships flying the flag of non-signatory states remains unknown. Several states (including Norway, Japan, and the United States) disagreed with the above view.

With no agreed position on the extent of retroactivity and without any approved technologies available, the proper course of action for the industry to take is not clear at all. It is important to note that this Convention does not alleviate a yacht from complying with the existing ballast water regulations already in place and heavily enforced in the United States and Brazil.

Antarctic ballast waters exchange

The Committee adopted guidelines providing common guidance for vessels undertaking ballast water exchange in Antarctic waters. They call for ballast that will be discharged in Antarctic waters to first be exchanged before arrival in Antarctic waters (preferably north of the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone or 60 degrees S, whichever is the farthest north) and at least 200 nm from the nearest land in water at least 200 m deep. If this is not operationally possible, such exchange should be undertaken in waters at least 50 nm from land in water at least 200 m deep.

Only tanks discharged in Antarctic waters would need to undergo exchange. Ballast water taken onboard from Antarctic waters that is intended to be discharged in Arctic, sub-Arctic, or sub-Antarctic waters should be exchanged north of the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone, and at least 200 nm from the nearest land in water at least 200 m deep. Vessels that have spent significant time in the Arctic should discharge ballast water sediment and clean tanks before entering Antarctic waters (south of 60 degrees S).

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