The Ballast Water Management Convention, adopted in 2004, is a number of guidelines that aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another, by establishing standards and procedures for the management and control of ships ballast water and sediments.
Under the Convention, all ships in international traffic are required to manage their ballast water and sediments to a certain standard, according to a ship-specific ballast water management plan. All ships will also have to carry a ballast water record book and an international ballast water management certificate. The ballast water management standards will be phased in over a period of time. As an intermediate solution, ships should exchange ballast water mid-ocean. However, eventually most ships will need to install an on-board ballast water treatment system.
The Convention requires that, as from 8 September 2017, all ballast water exchange by the relevant vessels takes place, whenever possible, at least 200 nautical miles from the nearest land and in water at least 200 meters in depth. When the vessel is unable to do so, then the exchange must take place 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 meters in depth (Regulation B-4 and Standard D-1).
All ships will have to carry a Ballast Water Record Book and will be required to carry out ballast water management procedures to a given standard. Existing ships will be required to do the same, but after a phase-in period.
As at February 2017, the number of contracting states is 54, representing approximately 53.30% of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant fleet. Finland was the latest country to accept, in September 2016.
Ballast Water Management systems must be approved by the Administration in accordance with IMO Guidelines (Regulation D-3 Approval requirements for Ballast Water Management systems). These include systems which use chemicals or biocides; organisms or biological mechanisms; or which alter the chemical or physical characteristics of the Ballast Water.
To know more about the Convention, please visit: http://www.imo.org/en/About/Conventions/ListOfConventions/Pages/International-Convention-for-the-Control-and-Management-of-Ships-Ballast-Water-and-Sediments-(BWM).aspx