1. Compliance with the BWMS Code (or 2016 G8 before October 13, 2019) is required for new installations after October 28, 2020. Is there any impact on BWMS previously installed?

BWMS type approved before October 28, 2018, in accordance with resolution MEPC.147(58) and resolution MEPC.125(53), Guidelines for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems (G8) installed on vessels before October 28, 2020, remain valid if installed and maintained in accordance with the applicable type approval certificate requirements.

2. Regarding indicative test instruments, are there any IMO approved instruments? If not, who can approve their use for commissioning test requirements?

The IMO has provided guidance for the trial use of indicative analysis technologies for PSC use (refer to BWM.2/
Circ.42/Rev.1 – May 2015). These instruments could be used by PSC during inspections of vessels if the PSC “initial
inspection” and “more detailed inspection” reveals the vessel may not be meeting the regulation D-2 discharge standard (these inspections are described in resolution MEPC.252(67) - Guidelines for Port State Control under
the BWM Convention – October 2014). PSC, moving forward with the third stage inspection (indicative analysis
testing), would not be considered undue delay of the vessel. Based on the indicative testing, PSC should be able to decide to release the vessel (if results indicate likely compliance) or delay the vessel to conduct detailed analysis. If PSC moves to detailed analysis, besides being delayed, the vessel could be exposed to sanctions,
warnings, or exclusions.

3. When do you think the experience building phase will conclude?

The experience building phase (EBP) as described in resolution MEPC.290(71) is a three-stage program that began
with entry into force of the Convention (i.e., September 8, 2017) and will end with the entry into force of the package of priority amendments. In the resolution, the figure illustrating the sequence of the EBP indicates some overlapping between phases and the non-penalization to all ships in certain circumstances is indicated to be provided throughout the entire EBP.

This suggests that the EBP could end as soon as Autumn 2022 or, based on the timing of adopting amendments, by the end of 2023.

4. Can an extension on IMO requirements be granted for a BWTS to be installed onboard by IOPP renewal? 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IMO has issued a set of Circular Letters, CL.4204. In CL.4204/ Add.1, CL.4204/Add.6 and CL.4204/Add.19. The IMO recognized that during the pandemic, completion of BWMS installations including commissioning and issuance of the IBWMC for D-2 may not be possible (i.e., limited travel capability by BWMS vendor technicians, delays of spare parts, etc.). The IMO is working to provide guidance on how to allow vessels to continue operating in compliance with regulation D-1. This may include substantial extension of the vessel’s IOPP certificate (since the BWM Convention regulation B-3 compliance is tied to the completion of the IOPP Renewal Survey). Vessels affected by the COVID-19 pandemic may have to have another out-of-service period to finish the BWMS installation and commissioning. Another likely problem is the rest of the world’s fleet will need to get their BWMS retrofits completed resulting in a shortage of docking space that could create a backlog, and the availability for vendor’s technical service may not be sufficient to complete all work simultaneously.

5. Are there any changes in USCG enforcement schedule due to COVID-19 for all vessels with installed BWTS?

At the time of this publication and to the best of our knowledge, no. The USCG’s BWM regulations (33 CFR 151 Subparts C andD) and U.S. EPA’s 2013 VGP have not been revised. For vessels with installed BWMS beyond the
USCG compliance date (original or extended), the nearest COTP or District Commander should be notified if the
vessel cannot conduct BWT. (As recommended in CVC Policy Letter 18-02, the destination port COTP should also
be notified.) The COTP or District Commander should be advised of the vessel’s contingency measures available
(in accordance with the BWMP). The COTP or District Commander may request additional measures, grant
permission to conduct the recommended contingency measures, or deny the vessel authorization to discharged
unmanaged ballast water at the destination port.

6. What is the length of extension (time) that flags are allowing, due to the COVID-19 outbreak?

The IMO continues to develop guidance for COVID-19 affected vessels. The BWM Convention does not allow an extension of an IBWMC for regulation D-1 beyond the completion of the IOPP Renewal Survey. However, if the IMO provides guidance for longer term extension of the vessel’s IOPP certificate, continued operations in accordance with regulation D-1 could be allowed for the vessel.

7. Will Ballast Water Management - not treatment - Systems utilizing only fresh municipal sources as ballast continue to be accepted?

The MEPC committee has determined potable water is not authorized for ballast water compliance for the BWM Convention.

The use of U.S. Public Water System (PWS) is approved for discharges to U.S. waters after cleaning the tanks in accordance with 33 CFR 151.2025(a)(2). (The U.S. EPA 2013 VGP allows U.S. PWS or Canadian drinking water systems – but since that conflicts with 33 CFR Subpart D, it remains impractical.)

8. What type of compliance checks will Port State inspectors carry out on existing interim BWTS that are not type approved?

When a BWMS is used as a prototype (i.e., in accordance with regulation D-4), regulation D-2 would not apply for that vessel during the five-year prototype period. Note that during the prototype period, the BWMS must be operated consistently and as designed.

9. Are we going to see more restrictions and legislation for biofouling rules and regulations? 

As BWM becomes more effective, biofouling will become the predominant problem if nothing substantial is done to reduce the root causes.

The MEPC launched GloFouling Partnerships (like the GloBallast program). Additionally, many marine-centric organizations have created correspondence and working groups to address biofouling control technologies and advise the MEPC on this important AIS problem.