Home » Breaking News, Maritime » Delaying compliance with ballast water regulation could be costly, says Bimco

Ocean vessel owners should not put off installing a ballast water management system, as delaying could lead to bottlenecks and additional costs, advises the Baltic and International Maritime Council (Bimco).

“With the industry’s eyes firmly fixed on the 2020 sulphur cap, shipowners might be paying less attention to installing a ballast water management system. But time will run out to comply with the ballast water regulation and delaying to the last minute could be costly,” it said.

“We strongly advise to get the installation planned as soon as possible,” said Ashok Srinivasan, manager, maritime technology and regulation at Bimco.

“The compliance window is meant to spread out installations around the world, and if the majority of shipowners wait until the last minute, as close to 2024 as possible, there will be bottlenecks.”

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Ballast Water Convention came into force on September 8, 2017, while the United States Coast Guard (USCG) regulations have been in force since 2012.

However, at the time the regulations took effect, shipowners were given a window to get the ballast water management systems in place. For U.S.-flagged ships, or ships flying other flags operating in U.S. waters, this date is generally January 1, 2021, although a few ships with extension letters may still have a little more time.

For the rest of the world, compliance with IMO’s Ballast Water Convention is by September 8, 2024, or even earlier, depending on the individual ship’s International Oil Pollution Prevention certificate renewal.

September 2024 seems far away, but from this date onwards, ships must have a ballast water management system installed, certified and ready to use, or use other methods of compliance to comply with the discharge standard. Penalties may apply for non-compliance, said Bimco.

“Few players in the industry have installed the ballast water management systems so far. Not only might the industry face bottlenecks if there is a last-minute rush to the yards or retrofitting locations, but it may also be much more expensive, as a sharp rise in demand could drive prices up,” said Srinivasan.

Both the IMO Ballast Water Convention and the USCG regulations aim to prevent contamination of local waters with aquatic species by stopping ships from discharging ballast water containing unwanted invasive organisms and species. The available ballast water management systems use a range of technologies, including UV filtration, chemical injection, chlorination, and so on.

Photo: South Carolina Ports Authority

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