"Combating invasive species in ballast water is a complex challenge. At the core of this issue is a real threat to our environment and economy. According to the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse, so far in 2017, almost half of ballast water discharged into the U.S. has been from overseas sources. That’s more than 122 million cubic meters of foreign ballast water,’’ USCG comments on its blog.
Considering the many challenges that BWM entails, it is important to keep in mind that ‘invasive species can enact significant long lasting damage to both the environment and economy.’
An overview of USCG measures taken with respect to BWM:
- Over the past 30 years the Coast Guard has transitioned from voluntary ballast water exchange, to mandatory exchange, to the new ballast water management options and discharge standard presented in our 2012 regulations.
- Over the past 5 years, the Coast Guard established the Alternate Management System (AMS) program
- To date, the Coast Guard has type approved six BWMSs, with others at or nearing completion of testing.
During 2017, USCG took considerable action to address the BWM issues, including
- Jun 30, 2017: USCG published MSIB 007-17 on the Acceptable US BWM Methods
- Jul 26, 2017: USCG published updated FAQs
- Sep 6, 2017: USCG published guidelines for voluntary compliance with the BWMC
- Sep 7, 2017: USCG updated its FAQs on BWM for the 6th time to include further information on ‘bareboat’ chartered vessels and revised guidance on inoperable BWMS
USCG is committed to continue working with stakeholders to ensure its compliance approach is as consistent and practical as possible. This can be achieved through continued dialogue between the Coast Guard and the industry stakeholders and collaboration towards reducing the threats of invasive species, USCG concludes.
A second blog in this new series is due in early December to provide more details on USCG’s focus on BWM compliance. The next blogs will provide further update on the U.S. type approval program, a recommended approach to selecting a BWMS and will discuss contingency planning for inoperable equipment or unavailable management methods.