BLG 17 – Positive Developments On Ballast Water Management


IMO member states this week agreed on a proposal to undertake a trial period for port state control sampling and analysis once the International Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) has entered into force.

Acknowledging that there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the methods used to sample ballast water and the real concerns of the industry as expressed in INTERTANKO’s paper to the IMO last year, the IMO’s Sub-Committee for Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG 17) has set out a procedure for port states to trial sampling techniques. Importantly, during this trial period port state control (PSC) will refrain from initiating criminal sanctions or detaining the vessel should the sampling show that the discharged ballast water does not meet the standards in the BWMC.

Ballast Water Management

The issue was brought about originally at the previous BLG meeting held in early 2012 when concerns were aired by the industry that the methods for sampling and analysis being proposed for use by PSC were actually more stringent than those being used to test the ballast water management systems (BWMS) during Type Approval. In the submission to the IMO’s MEPC 64 in October 2012, INTERTANKO and its co-sponsors expanded on the concern explaining that this could mean that type-approved systems which are operated according to the manufacturers’ specifications and as per the Type Approval could be proven to be non-compliant if the discharge is tested by PSC.

This led to INTERTANKO reiterating its concerns this week and stressing the need to ensure that the sampling and analyses procedures are no more stringent than what is required for Type Approval of the BWMS. It should be noted, however, that during this trial period port states will still have the authority to issue deficiencies and detain vessels should the certification and necessary ballast water management documentation be deemed in contravention of the BWMC requirements.

The trial will commence once the BWMC has entered into force and will initially run for two years. After this period a review will be conducted by the IMO to assess which methods should continue to be used and to amend the sampling and analysis protocols as necessary. The proposal has been forwarded to the BLG parent Committee, MEPC, for its approval and adoption when it meets in May this year.

Meanwhile, INTERTANKO’s joint submission aimed at increasing the transparency of the Type Approval process was well received with amendments accepted to both the Type Approval certification documents as well as the guidance to Administrations on the Type Approval process. It is anticipated that with these amendments accepted, the revised documents will result in more information provided to the industry and owners on the capabilities of BWMSs as well as the ranges and limiting conditions in which the BWMS can operate.

Both revised documents will be sent to MEPC 65 for adoption in May.






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