Under the BWM Convention, that entered into force on 8 September, certain vessels flagged by countries that have ratified the Convention are required to maintain a valid Certificate issued by their flag administration. The BWM Convention Certificate validates that a ship has successfully completed a survey conducted in accordance with the Convention’s requirements.

Despite the US in not party to the BWM Convention, USCG reminds that all US flagged vessels operating in a Party’s waters should be prepared to demonstrate compliance, otherwise they will be at risk for Port State Control actions, including detention.

The BWM Convention’s requirements and the Coast Guard’s regulations are generally aligned, however, U.S. flagged vessels should be aware of differences between the two regimes. These differences include the requirement that a vessel:

  • maintain a BWM Plan approved by its flag administration,
  • maintain a BWM Record Book, and
  • have evidence that it has been surveyed and certificated in accordance with the provisions of Section E of the BWM Convention

A US flagged vessel may be eligible to receive a Coast Guard issued “Statement of Voluntary Compliance” (SOVC), if the vessel owners/operators demonstrate compliance with the BWM Convention’s requirements. ACSs have the training to carry out inspections consistent with the BWM Convention and are recognized by the Coast Guard to conduct certain functions and certifications on behalf of the Coast Guard.

While no Party is required to accept a SOVC as being determinative of a vessel’s compliance status with the BWM Convention, the possession of a Coast Guard BWM SOVC is intended to provide persuasive evidence to a Party that the vessel is in compliance with the BWM Convention’s requirements. The Coast Guard BWM SOVC must be completed by the Coast Guard or ACS. In order to receive a BWM SOVC, a vessel must:

  1. be surveyed in accordance with the BWM Convention
  2. have an approved BWM plan
  3. have a Ballast Water Record Book complying with Regulation B-2
  4. must manage ballast water in accordance with Regulation B-3
  5. must employ a BWM method identified in Regulation D-1 or D-2 of the Convention.

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