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International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments
In July 2003 the IMO agreed a finalised draft of the proposed International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments. A diplomatic conference to adopt the convention is to be held in February 2004.

The new convention will have a two-tier approach. Tier 1 includes requirements that would apply to all ships, including mandatory requirements for a Ballast Water and Sediments Management Plan, a Ballast Water Record Book and a requirement that new ships shall carry out ballast water and sediment management procedures to a given standard or range of standards. Existing ships would be required to carry out ballast water management procedures after a phase-in period, but these procedures may differ from those to be applied to new ships.

Tier 2 includes special requirements which may apply in certain areas in which additional controls may be applied to the discharge and/or uptake of ballast water. The text for Tier 2 has not yet been developed.

Further information may be found at www.imo.org.

United States – Mandatory ballast water management to be introduced
The US have a mandatory ballast water management program in force since 1993 for the Great Lakes ecosystem (including Hudson River) and, since 1999, have had the same program for all other US waters but on a voluntary basis. After monitoring the voluntary program the Coast Guard has concluded that the level of voluntary compliance is inadequate and therefore has proposed mandatory ballast water management practices for all vessels equipped with ballast tanks bound for US ports or in US waters.

The US Coast Guard is considering comments submitted in response to proposed rulemaking for a Mandatory Ballast Water Management Program for US Waters. The mandatory program would require all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks entering US waters to use one of four ballast water management practices which may include ballast water exchange. In a separate but related action, the US Coast Guard has issued a Notice of Intent with request for public/industry comment concerning standards to establish what would be an acceptable level of compliance to prevent the introduction and spread of non-indigenous species from ballast water discharges. In this connection the USCG suggests that ballast water exchange may not be a long- term solution.

Further information concerning the Mandatory Ballast Water Program and proposed rulemaking is available from http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2003/03-19373.htm. Further information concerning the Notice of Intent regarding new standards is available from http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/mso/mso4/ans.html.

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