Ballast Water Management in Vessels

USGLSA continues to monitor the Ballast Water Management (BWM) subject on the U.S. Federal and State Legislative/Regulatory levels and advocates as appropriate. International developments are also followed.

A very important recent development has been the passage in November, 2018, and signing of U.S. legislation known as the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA). While before passage of the legislation, U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Administration both maintained often unclear and overlapping spheres of responsibility regarding Federal regulation of BWM standards. VIDA, as proposed, sought to place all BWM authority with USCG. However, a compromise was reached where the responsibilities were more clearly defined and conflicts eliminated. In addition VIDA sought to have Federal law completely pre-empt State authority to regulate BWM while previously there were troublesome conflicts between State and Federal standards.. This initiative was largely successful except for certain defined exceptions where there may be commonality among several States/Regions for circumstances where the matter is better served and tailored to the State level.

Implementation of the details of the VIDA statute remain to be completed between USCG and EPA and USGLSA will monitor those developments.

Another important process in the management of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in ballast tanks continues with the joint inspection regime operated by USCG and Canadian Coast Guard where all vessels entering the Seaway System must have exchanged ballast water at sea and then are subject to detention and ballast tank inspections. This process, now in place for years has continued to have remarkable success in stemming the entry of any new AIS into the Canadian and U.S. Great Lakes regions.