IMO's Ballast Water Convention came into force on September 8 2017, while the US have similar regulations since 2012. According to the Convention, ships have until September 8 2024 to comply. This date could be even earlier, according to the ship's International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) certificate renewal.
As for the US, ships carrying the US flag or other flags but operating in US waters need to comply with the US regulations by January 1 2021. However, there will be a few ships with exception letters, which will have more time.
Now, 2024 may seem far, but operators should plan in order to have their ships compliant on time. As of now, some have postponed the IOPP renewal, but a BWMS or some other way of compliance should be in place before September 8 2024.
In this regard, BIMCO's Communication Manager and Editor Mette Kronholm Frænde reminded an important aspect. Ms. Frænde said that up until now ships were exchanging ballast in the middle of the sea. This aims to prevent discharging water possibly containing invasive species near the shore. However, BIMCO notes that this practice will soon be out of compliance.
The compliance window is meant to spread out installations around the world, and if the majority of shipowners wait until the last minute, as close to 2024 as possible, there will be bottlenecks
Ashok Srinivasan, Manager, Maritime Technology and Regulation at BIMCO, mentioned. Nevertheless, if bottelenecks do happen, they could increase prices.
The Ballast Water Convention and US's regulations aim to avoid the contamination of waters from invasive aquatic species. This is achieved by stopping ships from discharging water that has these species.