The Ballast Water management Convention came into force on 8 September 2017 and applies to all international seagoing vessels that use a ballast system. The convention is a response to some of the potentially serious ecological, economic and health issues which are associated with transporting and releasing ballast water, especially if the ballast water collected from one region is released into an entirely different region resulting in organisms, bacteria, microbes, plants and small invertebrates being transferred into the local ecosystem.
In order to address this the Ballast Water Management Convention contains rules on the requirements for a Ballast Water Management System and the manner in which vessels should deal with ballast water generally. The convention differentiates based on the year in which the vessel was constructed and the ballast water management capacity in order to establish the relevant requirements with which a vessel must comply. In this regard the following matters are significant:
- The two standards that apply are the so- called D1 and D2 standards.
- The Convention applies to vessels registered in contracting parties of the convention only, but vessels flagged in non-parties would still need to comply by virtue of Article 3(3).
- The D1 standard applies to all vessels and provides that the ballast water must be released at least 200 nautical miles from shore and in water of a depth of no less than 200 metres. In addition, the vessel must keep a ballast water logbook and must have a ballast water management certificate.
- In order to comply with the D2 standard, a vessel must have a Ballast Water Management System. All vessels built after 8 September 2017 must meet this requirement. This system treats the ballast water to ensure that it complies with the limits imposed by the code and installations onboard for this purpose will be inspected according to the requirements of the convention.
Failure to comply with the requirements of the Convention or the rules on the release of ballast water which constitute a violation will result in sanctions being imposed in accordance with the national law of the member state.
The IMO has drawn up an overview of compliance requirements as included in this circular. Most importantly, vessels built on or after 8 September 2017 already have to comply with the D2 standard and all vessels have to comply with the D2 standard after 8 September 2024.