USCG clarifies rules on ballast water extensions

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has issued a clarification over its policy on granting extensions for ship owners to comply with the new ballast water management (BWM) rules.

Those rules require ship owners to use one of the USCG’s approved BWM methods, one of which is to install and use a US type-approved BWM System (BWMS).

USCG has, for several months now, been issuing type-approval certificates for BWMS which meet a higher standard than those of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

These systems’ purpose is to prevent invasive species from entering inland US waters through ships’ ballast water and potentially harming ecosystems.

Ship owners can, however, apply for an extension to their designated compliance date if they can show a type-approved system is not available for their vessel and it is not possible to comply with other BWM methods.

USCG says the determination on whether or not a type-approved system is available will be made according to evidence submitted by ship owners or operators.

Ships with compliance dates no later than December 31, 2018 must provide a plan as to how they will comply within 18 months of that deadline (i.e. within the next three months).

Vessels with compliance dates between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020 will have their extension request assessed starting in mid-2018 and may be considered for extensions to their deadline.

But vessels with compliance dates from January 1, 2021 onwards will be expected to meet compliance dates, no extensions.

The IMO’s BWM Convention should come into force by September 8 this year.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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