Ballast Water Management Convention

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Example of Alfa Laval Pure ballast 3.1 System

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What is a BWM Convention and how looks the requirements?

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (Ballast Water Management Convention or BWM Convention) is a 2004 international maritime treaty which requires signatory flag states to ensure that ships flagged by them comply with standards and procedures for the management and control of ships ballast water and sediments. The Convention aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another and halt damage to the marine environment from ballast water discharge, by minimizing the uptake and subsequent discharge of sediments and organisms. From 2024, all ships are required to have an approved Ballast Water Management Treatment System, according to the D2 standard (see below). Existing ships are required to install an approved system, which may cost up to 5 million USD per ship to install. To assist with implementation, the IMO has released 14 Guidance documents in regards to the Convention including the G2 Guidelines for Ballast Water Sampling, G4 Guidelines for Ballast Water Management, and G6 Guidelines for Ballast Water Exchange. As of September 2020, 79 countries participate in the BWM Convention.

All international seagoing ships under the Convention must implement a ‘Ballast water management plan’ that enables the ship to manage their ballast water and sediment discharge to a certain standard. The plan is designed to meet the requirements for compliance with the Convention and the G4 Guidelines produced by the IMO. It includes standard operational guidance, planning and management, as well as additional details including sampling points and systems. Additionally, all ships over 400GT must also carry a ballast water record book that details such requirements as the filling and discharge of each tank, according to time, date, location and the treatment applied to the water.

Ships that comply with the Convention will receive and are duly required to carry an international ballast water management certificate. To receive a certificate, a ship will have to supply the necessary documentation showing compliance with the Convention and a survey will be carried out on-board. A survey may be carried out by a flag State, or by a Classification Society who have been authorized by a flag State. The convention is monitored by Port State Control, who must assess the ballast water management plan and its operation on the ship.