BWM Convention Amendments Enter into Force

BWM ConventionImage Courtesy: IMO/Flickr

On October 13, 2019, amendments to an international treaty aimed at preventing the spread of potentially invasive species in ships’ ballast water came into force, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said.

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the BWM Convention) entered into force back in September 2017.

Since then, vessels have been required to manage their ballast water to avoid the transfer of potentially invasive aquatic species. All ships must have a ship-specific ballast water management plan and keep a ballast water record book.

Ships are also required to manage their ballast water to meet either the D-1 ballast water exchange standard or the D-2 performance standard. The amendments in force from yesterday formalize the implementation schedule for the transition from the D-1 to the D‑2 standard aimed at ensuring that viable organisms are not released into new sea areas, according to the IMO.

What is more, the amendments make mandatory the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which sets out how BWM systems used to achieve D-2 have to be assessed and approved.

As explained, this will help ensure that aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location – and avoid the spread of invasive species as well as potentially harmful pathogens.

The amendments to the BWM Convention were adopted in April 2018. In essence, the schedule for implementation means that compliance with the D-2 standard set out in the convention will be phased-in over time for individual ships, up to September 8, 2024. Over time, more and more ships will be compliant with the D-2 standard.

Image Courtesy: IMO


In many cases, meeting the D-2 standard will be achieved through fitting BWM systems. There are now many such approved systems on the market, ranging from those which use physical methods such as ultraviolet light to treat the ballast water, to those using active substances  — chemicals. Those that use active substances have to go through a thorough additional approval process.

Other amendments to the BWM Convention which have now entered into force relate to survey and certification, the IMO added.

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