Ballast water

  • Published: 09/12/2016

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWM Convention) enters into force on 8 September 2017. This means new requirements for the management of ballast water for Norwegian ships engaged on international voyages.

The BWM Convention is based on the desire to prevent the introduction of species into areas where they are not naturally found.

The provisions of the Convention can be found in both English and Norwegian translation in Storting proposition No. 5 (2006-2007) regarding the consent to accession to the BWM Convention.

Who does the BWM Convention apply to?

The BWM Convention applies to ships engaged on international voyages constructed to operate with ballast water. It does not apply to ships with sealed tanks with permanent ballast water. Neither does it, as a starting point, apply to ships only commuting between Norwegian waters and the open sea.

The regulations allow States to extend the scope of application of the Convention to ships engaged exclusively on domestic voyages, but such an extension is not planned in Norway at this time.

What are the practical consequences for my ship?

When the BWM Convention enters into force, ships will be required to treat/manage ballast water to ensure that the ballast water satisfies the requirements of the D2 discharge standard of the Convention when discharged. This will in principle be done by installing and using ballast water management systems (BWMS) on board. The BWMS must be approved in accordance with the IMO's guidelines, and satisfy the requirements of the D2 standard as set out in the BWM Convention.

The requirement to install a ballast water management system is expected to become applicable by the first renewal survey of the IOPP certificate after the entry into force of the Convention. This phase-in solution was chosen after the original timetable for the implementation of the BWM Convention's requirements became out-dated, and is set out in IMO Resolution A.1088(28). The solution was among other things chosen in order to level out an expected peak in demand for delivery and installation. This must, however, be laid down in the regulations that implement the BWM Convention.

Cleaning methods

Most BWMS are based on a two-step technology, where filtration or use of cyclone will be the first step that removes larger particles, followed by a disinfection step to kill the smaller organisms that remain in the water.

Several different technological solutions may be used for the disinfection, both physical (e.g. UV radiation, heat treatment, cavitation or ultrasound) and chemical (adding of different chemical compounds or use of processes generating disinfecting chemical compounds on board).

The systems can be divided into two main groups, the so-called G8 and G9 systems. G8 systems do not use active substances or preparations and can be type-approved without preceding approval from the IMO. The G9 systems, that do use such active substances or preparations, must on the other hand be approved by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) following a thorough evaluation by the GESAMP-BWWG, before they can be type-approved.

A list of all type-approved ballast water management systems can be found on IMO's website. This list is updated after each session of the MEPC.

What will happen with the current ballast water regime - the 2009 Regulations?

The NMA aims to replace the 2009 Regulations with new Regulations implementing the provisions of the Convention, and to send the new Regulations for consultation in the first quarter of 2017.

The established areas for exchange of ballast water are intended to be continued. The requirements for exchange of ballast water (the D1 standard) will be applicable until the phase-in of the cleaning technology is complete.

Possibilities for exemptions?

The Convention allows a State, on specified conditions and in waters under its jurisdiction, to grant time-limited exemptions from the ballast water management requirements for voyages between specified ports. The States that are party to the Baltic Sea cooperation (HELCOM) and the cooperation for the North-Atlantic sea areas (OSPAR), respectively, are in the process of developing common guidelines for the practical implementation of the exemption scheme.

Which matters are still being discussed?

The question regarding the date of implementation for the requirements for BWMS was discussed anew during the last session of the MEPC, without a conclusion being reached. The question regarding the date of implementation will therefore at the earliest be settled at the next session of the MEPC, which will take place in June 2017. Until further notice, the IMO's recommendations from Resolution A.1088(28) regarding linking the compliance date to the renewal date for the IOPP Certificate will apply.

Special Norwegian requirements?

As a starting point, the NMA does not intend to lay down special Norwegian requirements in addition to the requirements that follow from the provisions of the Convention.

Delegation to RO for classed ships?

The current scheme will be continued, with a few adjustments as a result of the entry into force of the Convention.

Norwegian provisions do not prevent de-coupling of the IOPP certificate from the HSSC

Since it became clear that the BWM Convention will enter into force on 8 September 2017, the NMA has received questions from the industry regarding the possibility to de-couple the renewal of the IOPP certificate from the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification (HSSC) laid down in IMO Resolution A.1104(29). The NMA has evaluated relevant national legal instruments, and concluded that there are no Norwegian provisions that prevent the decoupling of the IOPP certificate.

After the BWM Convention's deadlines for installing of BWMS were exceeded prior to the entry into force of the Convention, the IMO adopted Resolution A.1005(25), which has since been replaced by Resolution A.1088(28), where the deadline for compliance has been set to the first renewal survey of the IOPP certificate following the entry into force of the Convention. As a result, some companies might find it beneficial to bring forward the renewal of the IOPP certificate.

The HSSC has been established as a common survey and certification tool in order to take into account economic considerations, capacity and a holistic approach to the vessels' technical status. The NMA finds it unfortunate that one single certification is decoupled from the HSSC when this means that the positive environmental effects that follow from the requirements of the BWM Convention will in fact be delayed. We therefore ask that the industry try to carry out surveys in line with the HSSC as far as possible.

If a company decouples the IOPP certificate all the same, the NMA requests the company to ensure that the certificate is realigned and reharmonized with the HSSC.

Since the implementation scheme for the requirements of the BWM Convention will be discussed again during the MEPC 71 in mid-2017, the NMA makes reservations that the scheme might be amended.

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