The U.S. Coast Guard has initiated civil penalty proceedings against the operator, Vega Reederei GmbH & Co. KG, following investigation into ballast water discharge where violations by the bulk carrier Vega Mars found. USCG investigators found that around Jan. 29, 2017, while moored in Tacoma, ballast water was discharged from the bulk carrier without the use of a Coast Guard approved ballast water management system or other approved means which is a violation of the National Invasive Species Act with a maximum penalty of $38,175.
Initial violations were found by Port State Control examiners while they were aboard the 580-foot Liberian-flagged vessel to verify it met U.S. laws, U.S. regulations and applicable international conventions as per the PSC program. Subsequently, the Coast Guard, after the investigation of ballast water discharge violations, initiated civil penalty proceedings against the vessel operator.
“The Coast Guard is committed to the protection of the marine environment through strong and robust administration and oversight of ballast water management practices,” said Capt. Joe Raymond, commanding officer, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound.
“These efforts are in line with the recent approval of four different ballast water management systems. These types of enforcement actions help prevent future incidents and reflect the importance of protecting the sensitive waters of the Puget Sound.”
According to the USCG, vessels equipped with ballast water tanks that operate in the waters of the United States must employ an approved ballast water management method to prevent the unintentional introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species.
USCG has previously informed that after the availability of a type approved BWMS, any owner/operator requesting an extension must provide the Coast Guard with an explicit statement supported by documentary evidence (e.g., a delay in commercial availability) that installation of the type approved system is not possible for purposes of compliance with the regulatory implementation schedule. Further details may be found by reading USCG BWM Extension Program Update.