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INCORPORATING

BWM CONVENTION AMENDMENTS NOW IN FORCE

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 

The IMO reminds ship operators that the amendments to the international treaty aimed at preventing the spread of potentially invasive species in ships' ballast water entered into force on 13 October.

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (the BWM Convention)  entered into force in 2017. The amendments formalise an implementation schedule to ensure ships manage their ballast water to meet the D-2 standard, aimed at ensuring that viable organisms are not released into new sea areas, and make mandatory the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which sets out how ballast water management systems used to achieve the D-2 standard have to be assessed and approved.

The amendments to the BWM Convention were adopted in April 2018. In essence, the schedule for implementation means that compliance with the D-2 standard set out in the Convention will be phased-in over time for individual ships, up to 8 September 2024. Over time, more and more ships will be compliant with the D-2 standard. (See the infographic).

In many cases, meeting the D-2 standard will be achieved through fitting ballast water management systems. Approved systems on the market range from those which use physical methods such as ultraviolet light to treat the ballast water, to those using active substances (chemicals). Those that use active substances have to go through a thorough additional approval processes.

Other amendments to the BWM Convention entering into force on 13 October 2019 relate to survey and certification.

The D-2 standard specifies that ships can only discharge ballast water that meets the following criteria:

  • less than 10 viable organisms per cubic metre which are greater than or equal to 50 micrometres in minimum dimension;
  • less than 10 viable organisms per millilitre which are between 10 micrometres and 50 micrometres in minimum dimension;
  • less than 1 colony-forming unit (cfu) per 100 millilitres of Toxicogenic Vibrio cholerae;
  • less than 250 cfu per 100 millilitres of Escherichia coli; and
  • less than 100 cfu per 100 millilitres of Intestinal Enterococci.

Since the Convention entered into force in September 2017, ships have been required to manage their ballast water to avoid the transfer of potentially invasive aquatic species. All ships must have a ship-specific ballast water management plan and keep a ballast water record book. Ships are also required to manage their ballast water to meet either the D-1 ballast water exchange standard or the D-2 performance standard. The amendments in force from 13 October 2019 formalise the implementation schedule for the transition from the D-1 to the D‑2 standard.

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