The implementation of the Ballast Water Convention (BWC), agreed by the MEPC at its 71st meeting in July 2017, is likely to gather pace in 2018. Ships under construction whose keel was laid on or after 8 September 2017 must conduct ballast water management that at least meets the D-2 standard from the date they are put into service.
For existing ships, the date for compliance with the D-2 standard is linked with the first renewal of the ship’s International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate after September 2019.
To date, 67 states have ratified the BWC, representing nearly 75% of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage (Malta, Jamaica, Portugal and the Seychelles have committed to accession since the Convention entered into force in September and Argentina ratified in August).
Some states are already moving ahead of the regulators, driving enforcement of the BWC ahead of the IMO timeline. Since 21 June 2012, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) ballast water regulations have required vessels that discharge ballast in U.S. waters to either install a treatment system or manage their ballast water in another approved way.
In September 2017, the California State Lands Commission issued a letter to clarify the new requirements for vessels arriving at the country’s ports on or after 1 October 2017, making clear its position on compliance with the Convention.
This move is already being followed by other leading maritime nations including Saudi Arabia, and moving into 2018 it is highly likely that more nations will follow suit. This leaves shipowners and operators with a fundamental choice: to invest in a ballast water treatment system (BWTS) and retain full access to markets and countries, or to delay investment and risk the consequent loss of trade.
It is no secret that there are concerns around the performance and accuracy of BWTS, and this is a key factor in shipowners’ investment decisions. At a recent conference in China, one representative reported unsatisfactory performance based on experience with the BWTS fitted on 36% of its fleet. This has caused crews to lose confidence in the treatment systems and has induced a fear of additional commercial risk amongst shipowners.
FastBallast for compliance monitoring of ballast water discharge
Chelsea Technologies Group (CTG) has direct experience of ballast water management and compliance with the high standards demanded by regulators. CTG’s FastBallast Compliance Monitoring System was identified by Saudi Aramco’s in-house marine biology experts as the most accurate solution in the market for the sampling and testing of ballast water, and will be used to conduct spot checks undertaken by third-party sampling companies.
FastBallast is the only technology capable of operating in a continuous flow-through mode, while providing a high degree of accuracy with a representative report on discharge compliance. It is capable of determining the phytoplankton cell density of ballast water to IMO D2 & USCG Discharge Standards (10 to 50 µm range), with an equivalent degree of confidence as laboratory analysis.
Crews need the training to give them the knowledge and expertise to spot any issues with the compliance data
Installing ballast water treatment systems is a costly undertaking, and confidence in the reliability and integrity of the monitoring systems is critical. False readings could lead to delays with port state control, fines and potential reputational damage. Crews need the training to give them the knowledge and expertise to spot any issues with the compliance data, as failure to do so will prolong damage to the marine environment and will have a significant impact on a company’s brand and reputation. For shipowners, this will lower profitability and reduce the available share of the market.