Ballast Water Management

Ballast Water Management

2019 ABS Report Reveals Key Insights into Ballast Water Management Systems

For a copy of the 2019 Best Practices for Operations of Ballast Water Management Systems Report, click on the link below.

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Managing Ballast Water

Roughly 80% of globally traded commodities are shipped at some point in their journey across markets. Along with the transport of goods, shipping moves 3-5 billion tons of ballast water throughout the world each year. Shipowners, designers, builders and operators rely on ABS to understand international ballast water regulations and assist in the installation and proper operation of ballast water management systems (BWMS) on their vessels.

The IMO, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and other authorities have established regulations to reduce risks to public health and the environment that result from the transfer of ballast water around the world. The ABS Ballast Water Treatment Advisory and the ABS Guide for Ballast Water Treatment are leading resources to attain ship compliance with applicable standards from ballast water authorities.

How to Safely and Responsibly Manage Ballast Water

To adhere to responsible ballast water management standards in the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention, shipowners must do the following:

  • Develop a ballast water management plan
  • Select and install a treatment system
  • Train personnel to operate their chosen system

IMO Member States (flag Administrations) have granted type approval to more than 70 commercially available BWM systemsThe USCG has granted Alternate Management System (AMS) acceptance to more than 60 of the systems that have foreign administration type approval. ABS can assist shipowners in evaluating the treatment system that best meets their needs.

The USCG Acceptable BWM Options

The USCG Standards for Living Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters (June 2012) identified the following BWM options:

  • No ballast water discharge
  • Use a USCG type approved BWMS
  • Discharge to a facility onshore or another vessel for purposes of treatment
  • Use only water from a U.S. public water system

Temporary compliance options include:

  • Perform a complete ballast water exchange (BWE) prior to the vessel’s compliance date
  • Use an alternate management system (AMS) for no longer than 5 years from the vessel’s USCG compliance date

The USCG will inspect BWMS as part its normal port state control (PSC) inspections and domestic vessel inspections. 

The ABS Advisory Services team offers technical guidance, operational solutions and unparalleled insight into all facets of ballast water management, including:

  • Clarification and guidance on applicable standards of BWM compliance
  • Review of BWM plans
  • BWMS technology evaluation services
  • Training for officers and crew
  • Survey, certification and inspection
  • Guidance and review of biofouling management plans
  • Clarification and guidance on compliance with US EPA Vessel General Permit

For more information, please contact

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