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Ballast Water Management


ABS Announces Ballast Water Management Systems Selection Service

ABS has announced the launch of its Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS) Selection Service to assist designers, shipyards, owners and operators in selecting the solution suited to the unique needs of each vessel. This service builds upon ABS’ position as a leading provider of classification, regulatory and technical services related to BWMS.

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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.

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 50 commercially available BWM systems. The USCG has granted Alternate Management System (AMS) acceptance to more than 50 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 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) up to the date required to be in compliance with ballast water discharge standards
  • Use an alternate management system (AMS) for no longer than 5 years from the date required to be in compliance with BWDS

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

The ABS Environmental Performance 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 ABS:

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Download the ABS Ballast Water Treatment Advisory.


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