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Environmental protection

Ballast Water

  • To which ships does the Ballast Water Management Convention apply?

The Ballast Water Management Convention applies to all ships under a flag of a contracting party regardless of their size. Germany has ratified the convention and is therefore a contracting party. Even ships that do not fly the flag of a contracting party have to comply with the Ballast Water Management Convention when they travel in the territorial waters of a contracting party. For the purpose of the Ballast Water Management Convention ship is a vessel of any type whatsoever operating in the aquatic environment. This includes floating platforms without its own propulsion, floating craft and FSUs. The convention applies to inland waterway vessels when they travel maritime waters along the seawards border of the territorial sea. The Ballast Water Management Convention does not apply to:

  1. ships on domestic voyages, however, these are covered by the “See-Umweltverhaltensverordnung (SeeUmwVerhV)” (ordinance on maritime environmental performance),
  2. ships with sealed ballast water tank systems,
  3. warships, naval auxiliaries or other state ships,
  4. ships not designed or constructed to carry ballast water.
  • Under which conditions is a discharge of ballast water possible since the Ballast Water Management Convention has entered into force?

The discharge of ballast water shall only be conducted through Ballast Water Management in accordance with the provisions in the annex to the Ballast Water Management Convention – which means by compliance with Regulations D-1 and D-2. Whether Regulation D-1 or D-2 applies depends on the individual age of the ship in the framework of the relevant IMO requirements:

  1. Newly built ships have to comply with Regulation D-2 immediately. Usually the date of laying keel applies (Regulation A-1.4 of the Ballast Water Management Convention).
  2. Existing ships which had the renewal of their IOPP Certificate between 8.9.2014 and 8.9.2017 or have it after 8.9.2017 must comply with D-2 after the first following IOPP renewal survey after 8.9.2019.
  3. Existing ships which have their renewal survey for the IOPP Certificate within the first two years after the entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention on 8.9.2017 profit from a postponement. They only need to comply with Regulation D-2 after the second IOPP renewal survey after the entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention – this means at the latest by 8.9.2024.
  4. Existing ships which decoupled the IOPP Certificate stay in the decoupled schedule and do not profit from the decoupling of the IOPP Certificate for a second time within the first two years after the entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention.
  5. Ships under 400 GT have to comply to Regulation D-2 by 8.9.2024 at the latest.

Therefore, initially, all ships – with the exception of newly built ships – have to comply with the interim Regulation D-1 (exchange of ballast water) from 8.9.2017. Further information about the periods of grace can be found in ISM Circular 2/2017.

  • What exactly do the Regulations D-1 and D-2 of the annex to the Ballast Water Management Convention include?

The D-1 standard which is permitted for a transitional period after the Ballast Water Management Convention entered into force can be achieved by a simple ballast water exchange. We have compiled an information sheet on the D-1 standard (in German only) which explains how this exchange has to be conducted in detail. The proceeding D-2 standard, on the other hand, can only be complied with with an appropriate ballast water management system or by discharging ballast water into a port reception facility. The exact requirements can be found in our sheet with information on the D-2 standard (in German only).

  • Which special regulations apply to ballast water exchange in the North Sea?

The OSPAR States have designated an exchange area for intra North Sea traffic (see BWM.2/Circ.56). This sets out that:

  1. ships on voyage in intra North Sea traffic (and only these) are required to conduct an exchange in the designated exchange area of the North Sea if the exchange area is on their way. Ships are not obliged to divert from the planned travel route or to delay the voyage to conduct a ballast water exchange.They are possibly required to conduct a partial exchange only (cf. our information on the D-1 standard).

    Example: A ship on voyage from Rotterdam/Felixstouwe to Wilhelmshaven may not have enough time to entirely comply with the exchange rules. Nevertheless, it is required to start and finish the exchange with suitable tanks as far as possible. If e.g. a complete exchange of one tank would be impossible due to lack of time, the exchange of that ballast water tank should not be commenced. It is important that these circumstances are clearly documented in the Ballast Water Record Book.

    Example: A ship on voyage from Hamburg to Cuxhaven for loading/unloading does not pass the designated exchange area. The ship is not required to conduct a ballast water exchange. However, the circumstances thereof need to be documented in the Ballast Water Record Book. Neither is such a ship required to divert from the planned travel route in order to conduct a ballast water exchange in compliance with Regulation D-1 nor is it required to adopt Regulation D-2 (see above).
  2. Intra North Sea traffic comprises all ships that operate within the North Sea only and take up or discharge ballast water in that area. This includes all rivers opening into the North Sea, as well as the Kiel Canal, which forms part of the river system Elbe. In each case, each section of the voyage has to be considered separately, i.e. even though a ship is heading for the Baltic Sea, it is considered as being intra North Sea traffic if it takes up or discharges ballast water in the North Sea/Kiel Canal.

    Example: A ship takes up ballast water in Rotterdam and plans to discharge it near Brunsbüttel in order to reach the Kiel Canal’s required load line mark. In such a case the prior exchange of ballast water in one of the designated exchange areas for intra North Sea traffic is necessary. In contrast, if the ship passes the Kiel Canal without discharging ballast water, and discharges ballast water only in its port of destination in the Baltic Sea, it is not required to conduct a ballast water exchange.
  3. the coordinates of the exchange area can be found in the annex to BWM.2/Circ.56 (exchange areas are any areas that are not shaded in red) as well as on this map,
  4. ships from outside the North Sea shall not exchange their ballast water in the North Sea exchange areas but rather use the 200 nm and at least 200 m water depth on their way before entering the North Sea (or if this is impossible 50 nm / 200 m water depth).

    Example: A ship takes up ballast water in Casablanca and plans to discharge it in Hamburg. Such a ship is required to conduct the ballast water exchange in the Atlantic before reaching the North Sea.
  5. The intra North Sea exchange area does not apply to ships coming from the Baltic Sea or coming from the North Sea calling at a Baltic Sea port either; ships on these kinds of voyages need not conduct an exchange in accordance with D-1.

    Example: A ship takes up ballast water in Malmö and plans to discharge it in Hamburg. An exchange of ballast water is not required.
  6. Regulation D-2 does not have to be adopted by ships which fall under the regime of the D-1 standard but do not reach an exchange area.
  7. All ballast water operations have to be recorded in the Ballast Water Record Book.
  • Which special regulations apply to ballast water exchange in the Baltic Sea?
  1. Ships traveling between two ports in the Baltic Sea do not have to conduct a ballast water exchange. There is no ballast water exchange area in the Baltic Sea.

    Example: A ship takes up ballast water in Tallinn and plans to discharge it in Kiel. An exchange of ballast water is not required.
  2. Ships coming from North Sea areas traveling into the Baltic Sea do not have to conduct an exchange in accordance with D-1, because they do not pass an exchange area that applies for them. The intra North Sea exchange area only applies for intra North Sea traffic.

    Example: A ship takes up ballast water in Rotterdam and plans to discharge it in Rostock. An exchange of ballast water is not necessary.
  3. Ships coming from other areas (Atlantic,…) to the Baltic Sea conduct a ballast water exchange according to the D-1 standard. Therefore, on long voyages, the exchange takes place before entering the Baltic Sea provided that circumstances (200 nm / 200 m water depth, 50 nm / 200 m distance from the nearest land, i.e. from the baseline / water depth or a usable exchange area) will allow it.

    Example: A ship takes up ballast water in Dakar and plans to discharge it in Kiel. Such a ship is required to conduct the ballast water exchange in the Atlantic before reaching the North or Baltic Sea.
  4. Regulation D-2 does not need to be applied prematurely if the ship still falls under the regime of Regulation D-1 but does not reach an exchange area (in German only).
  5. All ballast water operations have to be recorded in the Ballast Water Record Book.
  • Which exceptions from Ballast Water Management exist?

Intended exceptions from Ballast Water Management are:

  1. ensuring the safety of a ship in emergency situations or saving life at sea;
  2. accidental discharge resulting from a damage provided that all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent or reduce the discharge and that the damage was not caused willfully or recklessly;
  3. the uptake and discharge of ballast water and sediments when being used for the purpose of avoiding or minimizing pollution incidents from the ship;
  4. the uptake and subsequent discharge on the high seas of the same ballast water and sediments;
  5. the discharge of ballast water and sediments from a ship at the same location where the whole of that ballast water and those sediments originated and provided that no mixing with unmanaged ballast water and sediments from other areas has occurred. The definition of “same location” for ports lies within the countries competence.
  • Is it necessary to treat the ballast water on board to comply with Regulation D-2?

No, even though the installation of a ballast water management system on-board is the most common method. The Ballast Water Management Convention arranged other methods as well, e.g. the discharge in port reception facilities, if available (not compulsory). Also, the discharge into an external ballast water management system (e.g. on another ship or on land) is possible if these comply with the requirements of the approval guidelines G8/G9. The handling of the ballast water needs to be specified accordingly in the Ballast Water Record Book.

  • Does the compliance with the D-2 standard have to be brought forward if a ballast water management system exists on board?

No, an installed ballast water management system on board does not affect whether the ship falls under D-1 or D-2. The schedule is different for every ship, depending on the renewal survey of the IOPP Certificate. This does not apply to newly built ships with keel laying date on or after 8.9.2017. These have to comply with Regulation D-2.

  • Is it possible to get exemptions from the treatment requirement in accordance with D-1 or D-2 in several ports?

Yes, if all ports have been inspected in accordance with the “HELCOM/OSPAR Joint Harmonized Procedure” in conjunction with IMO Guideline G7 and the risk assessment permits an exemption. An exemption is only granted in cases of low risk for the environment, health, material assets and/or resources based on a port inspection. If the discharge of ballast water is planned for ports, the relevant authorities of the countries have to be contacted.

  • Does the data of the port inspections for granting an exemption get published? Is it available to other applicants?

Yes, the "HELCOM/OSPAR Joint Harmonized Procedure" stipulates this. The data shall be entered into the HELCOM databank, which is part of the "HELCOM/OSPAR Joint Harmonized Procedure".

  • Which ships must have a Ballast Water Management Plan and a Ballast Water Record Book on board? 

All ships falling under the Ballast Water Management Convention and flying a flag of a contracting party – regardless of their size - have to carry an approved Ballast Water Management Plan and a Ballast Water Record Book on board on domestic and international voyages. In German law, this is regulated by section 20 of the “See-Umweltverhaltensverordnung (SeeUmwVerhV)” (ordinance on maritime environmental performance). The Ballast Water Record Book may be available electronically or be part of another record book and is to be held available on board for at least two years (an additional three years in the control of the company). Each operation concerning ballast water shall be fully recorded without delay and signed by the officer in charge. Each completed page shall be signed by the master. Necessary entries include reasons why an exchange was not conducted in accordance with Regulation D-1 (see Guideline G6) and exemptions (see Guideline G4). The Ballast Water Record Book shall be kept readily available for inspection at all reasonable times. In the case of an unmanned ship under tow, it may be kept on the towing ship. The entries in the Ballast Water Record Book shall be in a working language of the ship. If that language is not English, French or Spanish the entries shall contain a translation into one of those languages. While amending Guideline G6 at its 71st meeting, the IMO prepared a revised version of the Ballast water reporting form.

  • Do ships with less than 400 GT receive an international Ballast Water Management Certificate (IBWM Certificate)?

As standard, ships on domestic voyages do not receive an IBMW Certificate and are exempt from the survey provision outlined in Section E of the Ballast Water Management Convention. However, shipping companies of these ships can apply for a certificate if they so wish. Provisions by the responsible classification society may require a survey for the ballast water certificate, e.g. because of the class notation.

  • Who can you contact regarding discharge of untreated ballast water?

Regarding the discharge of untreated ballast water, depending on the area in the territorial waters where the discharge occurs, individual federal and stately authorities are responsible. The point of contact at the federal government regarding prosecution of administrative offences on maritime waterways and federal waterways is the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), Department “Environmental Protection in Maritime Traffic” (S41), e-mail: Ballastwasser@BSH.de. The states are responsible for the monitoring and prosecution of administrative offenses in the ports. See a list of contact details for the relevant authorities.

  • Who can I contact if I have more questions regarding ballast water?
  1. Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems: Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), Department “Environmental Protection in Maritime Traffic” (S41), e-mail: Ballastwasser@BSH.de
  2. Approval of Ballast Water Management Plans and issuance of certificates (IBWM Certificate): BG Verkehr / Ship Safety Division (Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit), e-mail: Holger.Steinbock@BG-Verkehr.de, phone: +49 40 361 37-217.
  3. Monitoring ships under foreign flag in German ports as part of port state control: BG Verkehr / Ship Safety Division (Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit), e-mail: psc-germany@BG-Verkehr.de
  • Where can I find more information regarding ballast water?
  1. On our website under the heading “Ballast Water”, under “Documents/Environmental protection” as well as latest information on the home page.
  2. In the IMO Document MEPC71/17/Add. 2 Annex 11 (“BWM – How to do it”)
  3. In our information leaflet about the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention in which we summarized all the important facts and clarified with practical examples in which situation which rule applies.

Wreck Removal

  • When will the International Ship Recycling Convention (Hong Kong Convention) enter into force?

The convention will enter into force when at least 15 states with over 40% of the of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping have entered into a binding commitment. This is not yet the case. Find here the current status of this and other conventions of the International Maritime Organization IMO (under the heading "Summary Status for each Convention").