Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ballast Water Management

The unintentional introduction of non-indigenous species (NIS) into U.S. waters via the discharge of vessels ballast water has had significant negative effects on the nation’s marine and freshwater resources, biological diversity and coastal infrastructures. The Coast Guard is responding to these concerns through a comprehensive national BWM program. This program

(1) requires mandatory ballast water management on all vessels equipped with ballast tanks that operate on waters of the U.S.
(2) establishes additional practices for vessels entering U.S. waters after operating beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and
(3) requires the reporting and recordkeeping of ballasting operations whenever a vessel equipped with ballast water tanks enters a U.S. port or place to anchor or moor. Since November 1, 2004, the Coast Guard has enforced mandatory ballast water management practices for all vessels equipped with ballast tanks bound for ports or places within the U.S. and or entering U.S. waters, regardless of whether a vessel operated outside of the EEZ of the U.S. or equivalent zone of Canada. This includes those ships that declare No Ballast On Board (NBOB), and for transits that occur between all Captain of the Port zones, including zones in the Great Lakes. If the voyage is less than 24 hours, the operator must report before departing the port or place of departure. If the voyage exceeds 24 hours, the operator must report at least 24 hours before arrival at the port or place of destination.

Mandatory Practices (33 CFR §151.2035(a)) include avoiding ballast operations in or near marine sanctuaries, marine preserves, marine parks or coral reefs, avoiding or minimizing ballast water uptake: where known infestations, harmful organisms and pathogens are located, near sewage outfalls, near dredging operations, where tidal flushing is poor or when a tidal stream is known to be more turbid, in darkness when organisms may rise up in the water column, in shallow water or where propellers may stir up the sediment, areas with pods of whales, convergence zones and boundaries of major currents, cleaning ballast tanks to remove sediment regularly; only discharging minimal amounts of ballast water in coastal and internal waters; rinsing anchors and anchor chains during retrieval to remove organisms and sediments at their place of origin; removing fouling organisms from hull, piping and tanks on a regular basis and dispose of any removed substances in accordance with local, state and federal regulations; maintaining a vessel specific ballast water management plan, train vessel personnel in ballast water and sediment management and treatment procedures.

Additional mandatory practices for all vessels arriving in U.S waters with ballast water that was taken on within 200 NM of any coast after operating beyond the U.S. EEZ must do one of the following: Conduct mid-ocean ballast water exchange prior to entering U.S. waters, retain the ballast water on board while in U.S. waters or use a Coast Guard approved method to treat the ballast water. BWM practices shall not jeopardize the safety of a vessel, its crew, or its passengers. Therefore, the master of a vessel will not be prohibited from discharging unexchanged ballast, in areas other than the Great Lakes and the Hudson River, if the master decides that the practice would be a threat to safety, stability, or security because of adverse weather, vessel design, equipment failure, or any other extraordinary condition. All vessels, however, must discharge only the minimal amount of ballast water operationally necessary and ensure ballast water records accurately reflect any reasons for not complying with the mandatory requirements. The only vessels that are exempt from the mandatory BWM reporting and record keeping requirements of 33 CFR 151.2041 and 151.2045 are:

• Crude oil tankers engaged in coastwise trade Cautionary Situations 99 of 111 Chapter XI
• DOD/Coast Guard/Armed Service Vessels,
• Vessel that operate exclusively within a single COTP zone do not have to submit BWM reports and do not have to maintain BWM records on board for two years.
• Vessels that operate in more than one COTP zone, but conduct all ballast operations (uptake and discharge) exclusively in one COTP zone, regardless of the number of voyages the vessel makes, are also not required to report of maintain BWM records under 33 CFR 151.2041 and 151.2043. Vessels engaged in the foreign export of Alaskan North Slope Crude Oil: These vessels must ensure compliance with the reporting and record keeping provisions of 33 CFR 151.2041 and 151.2045 in addition to the requirements of 15 CFR 754.2(j)(3).
Penalties for failing to comply with the Mandatory BWM Requirements:
Max: $27,500 per day
Willful violations = Class C Felony