The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has recently adopted a new convention called the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments. This convention will apply to all vessels, including ships, submersibles, floating platforms, floating storage units (FSU) and floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels. It will enter into force 12 months after 30 countries, with not less than 35% of the world’s tonnage, have ratified it.
All vessels will be required to practice ballast water management on all voyages and must comply with the ballast water exchange (sequential or flow through method) standards or use an approved ballast water treatment system depending on the date of construction and ballast water capacity. For example, vessels constructed before 2009 with ballast water capacity of between 1,500 m3 and 5,000 m3 are to comply with either method until 2014 and after that date they must have a water treatment system. Vessels constructed during or after 2009 with ballast water capacity of less than 5,000 m3 are to be equipped with a water treatment system. While specific requirements as may apply to various vessels differ initially, after 2016 all vessels with ballast water capacity above 1500 m3 will be required to have an approved ballast water treatment system.
Ballast water exchange is typically to be undertaken 200 nautical miles (nm) or more from the nearest coast and in water of 200 metres or more in depth. All vessels will be required to have onboard an approved ballast water management plan and a ballast water management record book. All vessels of 400 gt and above will require a ballast water management certificate, which will be valid for five years following an initial survey. The continued validity of the certificate will be subject to annual and intermediate surveys.