As briefly described in my recent January Mainbrace article, ballast water management has been one of the most challenging and oftentimes frustrating regulatory issues of the past decade. The principal reason is that the international regime under the International Maritime Organization’s (“IMO”) Convention on the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (“Convention”), and the U.S. regime under the National Invasive Species Act (“NISA”), are not quite in sync when it comes to approving equipment to meet the standards set forth in the Convention and the U.S. Coast Guard’s (“USCG”) NISA regulations.
On December 2, 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard (“USCG”) reached a watershed moment in the implementation of its ballast water management regulations by announcing the first USCG typeapproved ballast water management system (“BWMS”), a filtration/ultraviolet system manufactured by Optimarin AS, based in Norway. This USCG typeapproval has been more than four years in the making, since the USCG’s Final Rule for Standards for Living Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters went into effect on June 21, 2012 (“Final Rule”). On December 23, 2016, the USCG type approved two more systems—one ultraviolet system and one electro-chlorination system, manufactured by Alfa Laval Tumba AB in Sweden and OceanSaver AS in Norway, respectively.