The IMO Ballast Water Management Convention
The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast
Water & Sediments was adopted by consensus at a Diplomatic Conference
at IMO in London on Friday 13 February 2004.
The Conference was attended by representatives of 74 States, one Associate
Member of IMO; and observers from two intergovernmental organizations and 18
non-governmental international organizations.
Summary of Convention requirements
The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast
Water and Sediments is divided into Articles; and an Annex which includes
technical standards and requirements in the Regulations for the control and
management of ships' ballast water and sediments.
The main features of the Convention are outlined below.
The Preamble to the Convention refers to the following: the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and its request that IMO develop rules on ballast water discharge; the need for a precautionary approach called for by Principle 15 of the “Rio Declaration on Environment and Development”; States’ obligations under UNCLOS to prevent the spread of alien species; and the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity obligations under the “Convention on Biological Diversity” regime. Reference is also made to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which in paragraph 34(b) of its Plan of Implementation, calls for action at all levels to accelerate the development of measures to address invasive alien species in ballast water.
This Preamble firmly connects the issue and the Convention to the IMO regulatory strategy regarding ship safety, cleaner seas and internationally agreed upon standards. It also clearly links it with the sustainable development agenda and integrated management practices advocated at UNCED and at WSSD, reflecting the increasing integration of activities amongst the various UN agencies.
Entry into force
The Convention will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 States,
representing 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage (Article 18 Entry
Under Article 2 General Obligations Parties undertake to give
full and complete effect to the provisions of the Convention and the Annex in
order to prevent, minimize and ultimately eliminate the transfer of harmful
aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ships’
ballast water and sediments.
Under Article 5 Sediment Reception Facilities, Parties undertake to ensure
that ports and terminals where cleaning or repair of ballast tanks occurs, have
adequate reception facilities for the reception of sediments.
Research and monitoring
Article 6 Scientific and Technical Research and Monitoring calls for
Parties individually or jointly to promote and facilitate scientific and technical
research on ballast water management; and monitor the effects of ballast water
management in waters under their jurisdiction.
* A scientific team collecting ballast water from a ship´s tanks
Survey, certification and inspection
Ships are required to be surveyed and certified (Article 7 Survey and certification)and
may be inspected by port State control officers (Article 9 Inspection of
Ships) who can verify that the ship has a valid certificate; inspect
the Ballast Water Record Book; and/or sample the ballast water. If there are
concerns, then a detailed inspection may be carried out and “the Party carrying
out the inspection shall take such steps as will ensure that the ship shall
not discharge Ballast Water until it can do so without presenting a threat of
harm to the environment, human health, property or resources.”
All possible efforts shall be
made to avoid a ship being unduly detained or delayed (Article 12 Undue Delay to Ships).
Under Article 13 Technical Assistance, Co-operation and Regional
Co-operation, Parties undertake, directly or through the Organization and
other international bodies, as appropriate, in respect of the control and management
of ships' ballast water and sediments, to provide support for those Parties
which request technical assistance to train personnel; to ensure the availability
of relevant technology, equipment and facilities; to initiate joint research
and development programmes; and to undertake other action aimed at the effective
implementation of this Convention and of guidance developed by the Organization
Annex – Section A General Provisions
This includes definitions, application and exemptions. Under Regulation A-2
General Applicability: “Except where expressly provided otherwise, the discharge
of Ballast Water shall only be conducted through Ballast Water Management, in
accordance with the provisions of this Annex.”
Annex – Section B Management and Control Requirements for Ships
Ships are required to have on board and implement a Ballast Water Management
Plan approved by the Administration (Regulation B-1). The Ballast Water Management
Plan is specific to each ship and includes a detailed description of the actions
to be taken to implement the Ballast Water Management requirements and supplemental
Ballast Water Management practices.
Ships must have a Ballast Water
Record Book (Regulation B-2) to record when ballast water is taken on board;
circulated or treated for Ballast Water Management purposes; and discharged
into the sea. It should also record when Ballast Water is discharged to a reception
facility and accidental or other exceptional discharges of Ballast Water
The specific requirements for
ballast water management are contained in regulation B-3 Ballast
Water Management for Ships:
constructed before 2009 with a ballast water capacity of between 1500
and 5000 cubic metres must conduct ballast water management that at least
meets the ballast water exchange standards or the ballast water performance
standards until 2014, after which time it shall at least meet the ballast
water performance standard.
Ships constructed before 2009 with a ballast water capacity of less than
1500 or greater than 5000 cubic metres must conduct ballast water management
that at least meets the ballast water exchange standards or the ballast
water performance standards until 2016, after which time it shall at least
meet the ballast water performance standard.
Ships constructed in or after 2009 with a ballast water capacity of less
than 5000 cubic metres must conduct ballast water management that at least
meets the ballast water performance standard.
Ships constructed in or after 2009 but before 2012, with a ballast water
capacity of 5000 cubic metres or more shall conduct ballast water management
that at least meets the ballast water performance standard.
Ships constructed in or after 2012, with a ballast water capacity of 5000
cubic metres or more shall conduct ballast water management that at least
meets the ballast water performance standard.
Because there were uncertainties on the immediate availability of ballast water treatment technology to ships to which regulation B-.3.3 would first apply, i.e. ships constructed in 2009, the IMO Assembly adopted, on 29 November 2007, Resolution A.1005 (25) with the aim of postponing the starting date (1st January 2009) set in the Convention for the application of the Regulation D-2 standard. The Resolution established a new deadline, that is, 1st January 2012. In the Resolution, the IMO Assembly recommended that States ratifying the Convention should join with their instrument of ratification a declaration or otherwise communicate to the Secretary-General their intention to apply the Convention on the basis of the following understanding:
“A ship subject to regulation B-3.3 constructed in 2009 will not be required to comply with regulation D-2 until its second annual survey, but no later than 31 December 2011”
Other methods of ballast water
management may also be accepted as alternatives to the ballast water exchange
standard and ballast water performance standard, provided that such methods
ensure at least the same level of protection to the environment, human health,
property or resources, and are approved in principle by IMO’s
Marine Environment Protection Committee
Under Regulation B-4 Ballast
Water Exchange, all ships using ballast water exchange should:
Whenever possible, conduct ballast water exchange at least 200 nautical
miles from the nearest land and in water at least 200 metres in depth, taking
into account Guidelines developed by IMO;
In cases where the ship is unable to conduct ballast water exchange as
above, this should be as far from the nearest land as possible, and in all
cases at least 50 nautical miles from the nearest land and in water at least
200 metres in depth.
When these requirements cannot
be met areas may be designated where ships can conduct ballast water exchange.
All ships shall remove and dispose of sediments from spaces designated to
carry ballast water in accordance with the provisions of the ships’ ballast
water management plan (Regulation B-5).
Annex - Section C Additional measures
A Party, individually or jointly with other Parties, may impose on ships additional
measures to prevent, reduce, or eliminate the transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms
and Pathogens through ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments.
In these cases, the Party or Parties should consult with adjoining or nearby
States that may be affected by such standards or requirements and should communicate
their intention to establish additional measure(s) to the Organization at least
6 months, except in emergency or epidemic situations, prior to the projected
date of implementation of the measure(s). When appropriate, Parties will
have to obtain the approval of IMO.
Annex – Section D Standards for Ballast Water Management
There is a ballast water exchange standard and a ballast water performance
Regulation D-1 Ballast Water Exchange Standard - Ships performing Ballast
Water exchange shall do so with an efficiency of 95 per cent volumetric exchange
of Ballast Water. For ships exchanging ballast water by the pumping-through
method, pumping through three times the volume of each ballast water tank shall
be considered to meet the standard described. Pumping through less than
three times the volume may be accepted provided the ship can demonstrate that
at least 95 percent volumetric exchange is met.
Regulation D-2 Ballast Water
Performance Standard - Ships conducting ballast water management
shall discharge less than 10 viable organisms per cubic metre greater than or
equal to 50 micrometers in minimum dimension and less than 10 viable organisms
per milliliter less than 50 micrometres in minimum dimension and greater than
or equal to 10 micrometers in minimum dimension; and discharge of the indicator
microbes shall not exceed the specified concentrations.
The indicator microbes, as a human health standard, include,
but are not be limited to:
Toxicogenic Vibrio cholerae (O1 and O139) with
less than 1 colony forming unit (cfu) per 100 milliliters or less than 1
cfu per 1 gram (wet weight) zooplankton samples;
Escherichia coli less than 250 cfu per
Intestinal Enterococci less than 100 cfu
per 100 milliliters.
Regulation D-3 Approval requirements for
Ballast Water Management systems provides that Ballast Water Management systems must be approved by the Administration in
accordance with IMO Guidelines (G8 Guidelines for the approval of Ballast Water Management Systems). These include systems which make use
of chemicals or biocides; make use of organisms or biological mechanisms; or
which alter the chemical or physical characteristics of the Ballast Water.
To reinforce the robustness of the Type Approval requirements of the G8 Guidelines, the MEPC has approved guidance on interpretation of the G8 Guidelines for Administrations on the procedure for evaluating an aplicaiton for Type approval of a BWMS. The latest guidance is contained in BWM.2/Circ.43 (which supersedes BWM.2/Circ.28).
To improve the transparency of the Type Approval (TA) documentation, the MEPC has approved Resolution MEPC.228(65) (which supersedes Resolution MEPC.175(58)) which lists the information to report to the Organization when approving a ballast water management system in accordance with the Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8).
Regulation D-4 covers Prototype Ballast Water Treatment Technologies.
It allows for ships participating in a programme approved by the Administration
to test and evaluate promising Ballast Water treatment technologies to have
a leeway of five years before having to comply with the requirements of Regulation D-2.
Review of standards
Under Regulation D-5 Review of Standards by the Organization, IMO is
required to review the Ballast Water Performance Standard, taking into account
a number of criteria including safety considerations; environmental acceptability,
i.e., not causing more or greater environmental impacts than it solves; practicability,
i.e., compatibility with ship design and operations; cost effectiveness; and
biological effectiveness in terms of removing, or otherwise rendering inactive
harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in ballast water. The review should
include a determination of whether appropriate technologies are available to
achieve the standard, an assessment of the above mentioned criteria, and an
assessment of the socio-economic effect(s) specifically in relation to the developmental
needs of developing countries, particularly small island developing States.
Annex - Section E Survey and Certification Requirements for Ballast Water
Gives requirements for initial renewal, annual, intermediate and additional surveys
and certification requirements. Appendices give form of Ballast Water
Management Certificate and Form of Ballast Water Record Book.
Resolutions adopted by the Conference
The Conference also adopted four resolutions:
Conference resolution 1:
Future work by the Organization pertaining to the International Convention
for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments
Conference resolution 2: The
use of decision-making tools when reviewing the standards pursuant to
Conference resolution 3:
Promotion of technical co-operation and assistance
Conference resolution 4:
Review of the Annex to the International Convention for the Control and
Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments
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