The regulations of US are stricter than IMO’s.
“Since the US
is not signatory to the BWM Convention, the USCG is not enforcing it,” explains
USCG spokesperson LT Amy Midgett. “Rather, the USCG enforces its regulations on
commercial vessels fitted with ballast water tanks.”
Existing ships must comply with these regulations at the first scheduled
dry-dock after 1 January 2016, and newbuilds at delivery. Compliance involves
either being equipped with a USCG type-approved ballast water management system
or an approved Alternative Management System (AMS).
After five years, the AMS must
either achieve USCG type-approval or be replaced with a type-approved system.
Again, unlike an earlier
practice of documenting compliance with one of the accepted ballast water
management methods cannot be done by an operator since six BWM systems have
been type-approved by USCG and the enforcement of the regulations has become
tougher with USCG.
“The CG has taken enforcement actions ranging from issuing warnings to
taking civil penalty actions. The Captain of the Port may impose an
operational control restricting the vessel’s movement or cargo operation,
monetary penalty, and an increase in examinations,” says Midgett.
“Restrictions in cargo
operations may cost a vessel owner anywhere from $30,000 to over $100,000 in
port, agent, or pilot fees, fuel, cargo delays, or other penalties. There is
also potential for prosecution if criminal intent is suspected.”
Uncertainty remains an irksome source of frustration in any walks of
life, be it professional or personal. The industry as such is said to be
frustrated with the stringent regulations of USCG in particular.
Particularly those who
operate in US waters face a big challenge in selecting the right BWMS for their
ships from the six type-approved systems and about hundred AMSs now on the
According to Midget, “We have learned that the successful use of a BWMS
requires a company’s commitment to engineering design and installation, crew
training, and matching the BWMS limitations with the ship’s operations. The
Coast Guard is also strongly encouraging vessel owners and operators to plan
for contingencies. A vessel’s ballast water management plan should provide
directions and alternate measures to be taken if a ballast water management
system becomes inoperable, or if the vessel’s intended compliance method is
unexpectedly not available.”
Further afield, operators outside the US are struggling to overcome
similar hurdles, according to Ed Wroe, technical manager at the International
Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO).
“There are a number of challenges that owners face, including but not
limited to: differences between regional and global requirements; the
complexity and cost of retrofitting the systems onto existing bulk
carriers; the suitability of available systems to meet operational requirements
of the vessels; whether the systems do what they are meant to do; and post
installation services/support provided by manufacturers,” he says.
Interestingly, INTERCARGO saw its membership numbers rise significantly
from January to September 2017, and although it’s difficult to say how much of
this growth is because of the BWM Convention or any other specific piece of
legislation, Wroe does put it down in part to the increasing pace of regulatory
developments within the sector.
“Shipping companies are more interested in being adequately informed on
time and also being more involved in these developments,” he believes,
adding that for INTERCARGO’s part, the hope is that BWMS manufacturers will
form an association to help the industry overcome the inevitable challenges it
will face over the coming months and years.
“That way associations such as ourselves who represent shipowners would
be able to have a dialogue with a single body, representing the manufacturers,
thus enabling constructive discussions on the needs of the owners and
operators,” he concludes
2016, what Lloyds’ Maritime senior environment
and sustainability consultant Yildiz Williams said appears to be a very
pragmatic suggestion to the owners and operators; he asked them to be proactive
to the ballast water management issues arising out of two different sets of
regulations from IMO and USCG.
“I always try to encourage any owners and
operators to be proactive, which is very helpful,” Williams says. “So
definitely start looking into how they can comply, maybe plan their compliance
depending on their operational profiles, instead of waiting. I really do think
that being proactive is one of the best things they can do.”
proactive underscores confidence that is ready to face challenges both expected
and unexpected; it is being positive without being vainglorious; and it is
taking life as it comes with open hands, an optimism based on the understanding
of life as what is.