Ballast Water treatment is mandatory from 2017

The entry into force in September 2017 of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention requires ships in international traffic to apply ballast water management measures, such as ballast water exchange (D-1 standard for an interim period) and fulfill a certain discharge standard (D-2 standard according to the ship specific application schedule).

The latter requires generally the installation of a certified ballast water treatment device, which enables sterilization to avoid transfers of ballast water mediated species.


Exemptions are possible on low risk routes

Exemptions from this general requirement can be granted by country administrations under certain low risk conditions. In order to identify such low risk conditions a risk assessment should be carried out. IMO provides general guidance for such risk assessments -but does not specify a single approach to be followed.


In semi enclosed seas like the Baltic and North Seas it is essential that the coastal countries specify such low risk conditions together in a harmonised and transparent way to ensure that the convention fulfils its aims.


A joint regional approach on exemptions to supplement IMO is available

Based on the overall IMO framework the Baltic and North-East Atlantic coastal states and EU have developed and agreed in 2013 on a detailed joint harmonised procedure (JHP) to defining “low risk” as well as other necessary steps in granting such exemptions. This has been done as a joint venture between two regional seas commissions HELCOM and OSPAR.


The agreed approach is fully in line with IMO guidance and is based on a combination of “environmental” factors, namely the difference in salinity between ports/locations, as well as the presence of specific “target species”. The outcome of the approach is a categorization to High, Medium and Low risk routes which will then be the basis for further national deliberation and final decision.


The countries who have agreed to this approach within HELCOM include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Russia.
The countries who have agreed to this approach within OSPAR include Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Also the European Union is a member of both HELCOM and OSPAR.

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