The Merchant Shipping Directorate has issued a new notice to ship owners, ship operators, managers, masters, owners’ representatives and recognized organizations. The notice relates to modifications to the guidelines for the development of the Ballast Water Management Plan (BWMP), namely to the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) session 73 resolution MEPC. 306(73) (the ‘Resolution’) and, to the importance of the BWMP in general.
The BWMP is the document that details the procedure for the discharge of ballast water and the handling of sediment in accordance with regulation D-1 (exchange), and/or regulation D-2 (treatment) and regulation B-5 (sediment management). Conducting ballast water discharge and cleaning of sediments in accordance with the BWMP ensures compliance with regulation D-1 and/or D-2, and B-5. All ships shall have and implement a BWMP and record all ballast water operations in the Ballast Water Management (‘BWM’) record book. Moreover, vessels above 400 GT are subject to a BWM survey and are required to hold a BWM certificate.
The Ballast Water Management Convention (‘Convention’) defines the term ‘Contingency Measures’ as ‘a process undertaken on a case-by-case basis after a determination that ballast water to be discharged from a ship is not compliant, in order to allow ballast water to be managed such that it does not pose any unacceptable risks to the environment, human health, property and resources.’
The said Resolution puts an emphasis on section A-2 of the Convention which requires that the discharge of ballast water shall only be conducted as per the provisions of the Annex to the Convention. In the Resolution it was further noted that each ship shall have on board and implement a ballast water management plan approved by the competent authority, taking into account Guidelines developed by the Organization.
The main consideration at MEPC session 72 had been the timing as to when information on contingency measures should be included in BWMPs. During session 73 it was agreed that each Member State may determine the timing for the incorporation of information on contingency measures in the BWMPs of ships flying its flag.
It is recommended by the Merchant Shipping Directorate that the BWMP includes a new section for contingency measures either as an Annex to the existing approved plan or by inserting a new section within the existing re-approved plan indicating the date of the revision. Vessels still not yet equipped with a Type Approved BWMS, should have this inclusion done by the vessel’s BWMS installation date (option D2), as stated in the revised B3 Regulation of the Convention.