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NORMAM-20 requires exchange of ballast water at least 200 nautical miles from the coast.

On 15th October 2005 new regulations came into force for vessels operating in Brazilian territorial waters. These regulations, referred to as NORMAM-20, govern the management of vessels’ ballast water. The regulations apply to all vessels fitted with tanks and/or holds for ballast water entering Brazilian waters.

Pursuant to NORMAM-20, vessels are obliged to carry out an exchange of ballast water at least 200 nautical miles from the coast and only in waters exceeding a depth of 200 metres. The exchange is mandatory to all vessels engaging in commercial navigation between distinct hydrographic basins and/or when the vessel is navigating between maritime and fluvial ports.

The Brazilian maritime authorities accept exchange of ballast water by either sequential or continuous flow or Brazilian dilution method.

In case the ship is unable to perform the exchange of ballast water 200 nautical miles from the coast, the exchange should be made as far as possible from shore and, in all cases, within 50 nautical miles in waters with a minimum depth of 200 metres.

However, an exception will be made if the Master reasonably decides that such exchange threatens the safety or stability of the ship, its crew or passengers due to adverse weather conditions, ship’s stress, failure of equipment or any other extraordinary condition.

The provisions do not apply when it is necessary to safeguard the safety of human life or ships, in the event of force majeure due to stress of weather or any other circumstance which constitutes danger to human life or a real threat to ships, if a discharge of ballast water represents the only alternative to avoid the threat.

Any violation of the regulations may result in a fine for an amount of up to BRR 50 million (about USD 23 million).

In the event of a violation, the maritime authorities may institute administrative proceedings and take steps to warn, detain or prohibit the entry of the subject vessel into the port and/or terminal.

Accordingly, maritime authorities’ agents may carry out inspections whereby vessels are obliged to maintain on board the forms relating to water utilised as ballast and the Ballast Water Management Plan. Non-compliance may be construed as a violation of NORMAM-20. It is therefore recommended that vessels’ agents are provided with Ballast Water Reporting Forms for further processing.

We are grateful to Transgolf Agência Marítima Ltda and especially to Proinde, Santos for the above information.

Any comments to this article can be e-mailed to the Gard News Editor.

Gard News is published quarterly by Gard AS, Arendal, Norway.