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Ballast Water Treatment Technology: Ensuring accuracy in portable ballast water testing regulation to enable effective enforcement of the Convention

To date, the Ballast Water Convention (BWC) has been ratified by 80 states, impacting the operations of more than 80% of the global fleet. As the number of ballast water treatment systems in the market continues to grow, there will be an inevitable acceleration in compliance monitoring. To eliminate the risk of any ambiguity over results, potential fines, delays and reputational damage, it is vital that ballast water sampling and analysis is conducted using a proven methodology and is measured to a consistent industry standard, as failure to deliver this standard risks undermining the very spirit of the Convention.

The current variance in ballast water testing standards is creating a significant challenge for regulators as they look to establish agreed guidelines, and this ambiguity leads to uncertainty for Port State Control (PSC) at a time when portable testing is becoming increasingly key to ascertaining compliance. It is also creating genuine risk for shipowners who could potentially face the consequences of non-compliance. While ISO 11711-1:2013 provides guidance on the materials, design, and installation of equipment used to take samples of treated ballast water from the discharge pipe onboard a vessel, it does not yet include a standard on how to perform the representative sampling and analysis of ballast water, meaning that inaccurate results could land even compliant shipowners in hot water.

The IMO has begun discussions around agreeing standards and guidance for shipboard testing. However, it is crucial that any guidance being developed is reflective of the technical requirements of the regulation, the technical capability in the market, and the needs of regulators and shipowners, now and in the future.

Testing with a portable device that uses a proven methodology can provide both shipowners and PSC with an accurate assessment of ballast water compliance, allowing shipowners to take preventative action before non-compliant discharges are carried out, and for PSC portable monitoring allows for efficient and targeted compliance assessment operations.

About Chelsea Technologies Group
CTG have been designing and manufacturing bespoke sensors and optics equipment for the aquatic environment for over 50 years. Industries we specialise in include Maritime, Marine Science, Environmental, Defence, Homeland Security and Process Control. We have built up a reputation for globally supplying ship based systems to both military and civil operators over a number of years. These systems have been installed on ferries, research vessels, yachts and tankers.


As a leading global expert in highly advanced sensor technologies and systems, Chelsea Technologies is working closely with regulators including the IMO, ISO and port authorities as a trusted and workable international standard is developed for ballast water sampling and analysis, one that is based on a proven methodology for representative sampling and analysis of ballast water.

Chelsea’s FastBallast compliance monitor pairs sensitive technical components with a statistical method to generate a cell density that is comparable with laboratory analysis across all species and water types. This approach allows a measurement to be taken independent of an assumed cell size, in order to achieve accurate and precise readings to provide operators and port authorities with the highest level of confidence in compliance.

Invasive aquatic species have had a significant economic impact throughout the world, and accurate compliance testing is a vital line of defence in preventing the spread of harmful organisms. Without accurate testing, the Convention will not achieve its desired impact.

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For more information please contact: Emma JohnsonEmma Johnson, Maritime & Hydrocarbon Manager
Mobile: +44(0)7900 733 675 Tel: +44(0)20 8481 9042


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