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Ballast Water Management Convention finally comes into Force

Oct 13, 2017

Aquatic invasive species lack of ballast water treatment

More than 13 years after first being adopted, the ground-breaking Ballast Water Management Convention – established to protect both sea life and human health – finally came into force on September 8th 2017.

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM) was designed to prevent invasive new aquatic pathogens and viruses and other harmful substances from threatening marine ecosystems and spreading disease.

For years, the finger of blame has been pointed at the shipping industry. The proliferation of sea traffic, particularly the emergence of steel hulls, has meant vessels have increasingly turned to using water as ballast, instead of solid materials.

But the effect of this water ballast on fragile marine eco-systems has been devastating in certain parts of the world. Quantitative data has revealed that the rate of bio-invasions is increasing at an alarming rate.  And with volumes of seaborne trade continuing to increase, it’s feared the problem could get worse before it gets better.

It has been estimated that more than 5000 species of freshwater, brackish and marine organisms may be transported around the world in the ballast water of commercial shipping.

Researchers say that organisms found in ballast water aren’t restricted to just plants and animals. They have also discovered species of dinoflagellates (phytoplankton) responsible for creating harmful algal bloom. Of increasing concern is the spread, via ballast water, of the bacterium vibrio colerae, the cause of cholera.

Now, under the terms of the Convention, it is the requirement of all ships in international traffic to manage their ballast water and sediments to an agreed standard, according to the ship-specific ballast water management plan.

All ships are now required to carry a ballast water record book and an International Ballast Water Management Certificate (IBWMC).

It is now necessary for all keel laid ships constructed on or after Sept 8th 2017 to install a ballast water treatment system. It is mandatory for owners of existing vessels, built prior to Sept 8th 2017, to have a ballast water treatment system installed by the time of its International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) Survey on or after Sept 8th 2019.

What are these standards?

It is now a legal requirement for ship operators and owners to conform to the D1 and D2 standards, preventing the distribution of non-native species around the globe.

  • The D1 standard is for ballast water exchange and specifies the volume of water to be replace
  • The D2 standard covers approved ballast water treatment systems and specifies levels of viable organisms left in water after treatment.

 What do ship operators need to do to ensure compliance?

  • Create a ballast water management plan
  • Purchase a ballast water test kit to test for invasive aquatic species in ballast water and then ensure compliance

eazy Ballast Water Test Kit

In the fight to monitor and detect harmful bacteria, viruses and invasive species on a ship, Eazychem have developed the eazy Ballast Water Test Kit. The kit is accurate and reliable and will help users to remain compliant with all the latest legislation that’s now in operation.

For further information in relation to the Ballast Water Management Convention,  you can find numerous Eazychem articles about the regulations here:


Meanwhile, operators and owners can read more on the IMO site and

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