by Roberto Cazzulo, RINA

The 70th session of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 70), held from 24 to 28 October 2016, discussed the road map for the imminent entry into force of the BWM Convention.

The BWM Convention, adopted in 2004, will enter into force on 8 September 2017.

Ships will be required to carry on-board an approved “Ballast water management plan” and a “Ballast water record book”. Ships ≥ 400GT will have also to carry on board an “International Ballast Water Management Certificate” issued for a period not exceeding five years and subject to annual, intermediate and renewal surveys.

The Convention identifies two ways of managing ballast water and their relevant performance standards: the ballast water exchange (D-1 standard) and ballast water treatment system (D-2 standard). All ships, irrespective of their gross tonnage (i.e. including also ships < 400GT, although not required to carry an International Ballast Water Management Certificate) will have to comply with this requirement:

  • New ships (i.e. those keel laid on or after 8 September 2017) must be fitted with a ballast water treatment system (BWTS) according to D-2 standard
  • Existing ships will have to carry out the ballast water exchange according to D-1 standard until the date of the first renewal survey associated with the International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) Certificate following 8 September 2017; after such date, it is mandatory the installation on board of a BWTS

In view of the above, the MEPC 70 agreed to consider an alternative implementation scheme at MEPC 71 in 2017. Such a draft alternative scheme would allow ships whose IOPP Certificate fell due between 8 September 2017 and 8 September 2019 (two years after the entry into force date of the Convention) to fit the BWTS at the second IOPP renewal survey following the entry into force of the Convention, whilst ships with an IOPP renewal date after 8 September 2019 would be required to maintain the first IOPP renewal date for fitting the BWTS.

Another key issue discussed at MEPC 70 was the review of the G8 type approval Guidelines to ensure that future approved treatment systems will efficiently meet the D-2 standard. The Committee adopted the revised G8 Guidelines and agreed that all new type approvals from 28 October 2018 should be in accordance with the revised G8 Guidelines and that BWTS installed on ships after 28 October 2020 should be type-approved under the revised G8 guidelines. The Committee agreed to review these dates in the future to determine their achievability. The Committee also decided to mandate the revised G8 Guidelines by changing their status from guidance to an IMO mandatory Code; this will be progressed at MEPC 71 in 2017.