The Ballast Water Management Convention (BWM Convention) will enter into force on 8 September 2017, but the industry has been given a two-year extension on the requirement to meet the regulatory standard for ballast water discharges (D-2) on existing ships. The D2 standard specifies levels of viable organisms left in the water after treatment.
A compromise was struck at the 71st session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee last week to permit the delay in installing type-approved ballast water treatment systems. A key factor behind the extended deadline was recognition that the International Maritime Organization only recently, in 2016, adopted more stringent standards for approving BWM systems, the so-called G-8 guidelines. The previous G-8 guidelines had proven insufficient to guarantee that approved systems were able to meet the D-2 standard.
MEPC 71 agreed on amendments to regulation B-3 of the BWM Convention, which sets out an implementation plan with dates for when ships must have BWM systems meeting the D-2 treatment standards, with a view to adoption at MEPC 72. An MEPC resolution was adopted that will be circulated upon the entry into force of the BWM Convention, advising of these amendments.
The implementation plan is linked to the date of a ship’s International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) renewal survey, which is required under MARPOL Annex I. The idea is that all ships won’t do the IOPP renewal survey at the same time and hence avoid bottlenecks at yards as ships go into dry-dock to install BWM treatment systems.
With the amendments the requirements are as follows:
- Ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017 (all newbuilds) are to comply with the D-2 standard on or after that date.
- Ships built before September 8, 2017, are to comply with the D-2 standard at the first IOPP renewal survey completed on or after September 8, 2019 (Reg B-3/10.1.1); but no later than September 8, 2024.
- Ships built before September 8, 2017 which completed the IOPP renewal survey completed on or after September 8, 2014, but prior to September 8, 2017, are to comply with the D-2 standard at the first IOPP renewal survey completed on or after September 8, 2017 (Reg B-3/10.1.2); but no later than September 8, 2022.
- For ships which completed the IOPP renewal survey between September 8, 2017 and September 8, 2019, if the survey per Reg B-3/10.1.2 (above) is not completed, compliance with the D-2 standard is required at the second IOPP renewal survey, but no later than September 8, 2024.
For ships constructed before September 8, 2017 and which are not subject to the MARPOL IOPP renewal survey, compliance with the D-2 standard is required not later than September 8, 2024 (Reg B-3/5).
The regulation does not apply to ships that discharge ballast water to a reception facility that has been designed in accordance with IMO guidelines for such facilities.
In practice, it seems the majority of existing ships will be required to install BWM treatment systems at their first IOPP renewal survey on or after 8 September 2019, but before 2024.
The IMO extension has been welcomed by shipping industry associations, but may not be of much use for ships that are intended to be able to trade in the US, as the US has its own, more stringent standards for BWM.
In other developments, MEPC 71 agreed on amendments to Guidelines for risk assessment under regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention (G7) to introduce the same risk area (SRA) concept, and adopted an MEPC resolution to advise member states of these amendments.
The SRA concept allows States to agree on granting exemptions from the BWM Convention requirements for vessels operating in the waters of more than one State but within a specified area agreed between States.