The agreement applies to international ships, which are flying either a Republic of Korean flag (South Korea) or a Chinese five-star flag, and are sailing between China and South Korea.

The news came by a notice from the maritime safety administration of China, exempting such ships from conducting ballast water exchange in accordance with BWM Convention regulation B-4.1 and D-1.

However, there are some points to note, said BIMCO's Ashok Srinivasan:

1. This exemption applies to international ships, flying either a Republic of Korean flag (South Korea) or a Chinese five-star flag, sailing only between China and South Korea where conducting a ballast water exchange in accordance with regulations B-4.1 and D-1 is not possible.

2. The ships should meet either of the following two conditions:

  • The water depth of the sailing route should be less than 50 meters.
  • The sailing route distance is less than 100 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline of the destination port in China.

3. The exemption runs from 1 June 2019 to 7 September 2024.

The decision for not conducting a ballast water exchange should be clearly recorded in the ballast water record book detailing the reasons.

This exemption is not applicable to ships which are required to meet the D-2 standards of the BWM convention as per regulation B-3.

Therefore, if a ship is required to have an operational ballast water treatment plant, it should continue to treat its ballast water as per the D-2 standard.

The exemption is applicable until 7 September 2024.

This is because, by this date, almost of all the merchant fleet will have moved to meeting the requirements of regulation D-2 of the BWM convention and there would be no need for conducting ballast water exchanges unless in exceptional circumstances,

...explained Mr. Srinivasan.