Testing of Ballast water systems on the agenda as IMO meets


As the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meets for its 75th session on 16 to 20 November, regulations on ballast water testing is expected to be adopted.

Starting on 16 November, delegates from all over the globe, participating from the safety of their homes, will attend the MEPC 75 meeting virtually, as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way IMO conducts its meetings. Although the agenda is highly truncated to accommodate the new meeting style, adoption of new regulation on Ballast Water Management (BWM) commissioning testing is one the important items on the agenda.

Commissioning testing

Commissioning testing is needed to validate the installation of a ballast water management system. The purpose is to demonstrate its mechanical, physical, chemical, and biological processes are working properly.

This test will be conducted by a testing organisation and flag states, and recognized organisations (RO) will use the results as part of their initial survey prior issuing an International ballast water management certificate (IBWMC). 

The inclusion of commissioning testing is proposed as an amendment of the BWM Convention and it is up for adoption at this session. The requirement will included in regulation E-1, Surveys, of the BWM Convention and is planned to enter into force on 3 October 2021.However, since MEPC 75 was initially planned for May 2020 and postponed to November 2020, and this may change the original in-force date.

BIMCO finds that this will be a welcome change for shipowners because a commissioning test during the installation is expected to find errors and effectively rectify before the system is put into operation. 

New ballast water management systems

Member states have submitted information on several BWMS that have already been type-approved. Furthermore, the committee is also expected to give final approval to two more BWMS:

  • CleanBallast - Ocean Barrier System

An extend is expected to be given for the approval of five BWMS to operate in fresh water.

This development is positive giving shipowners more choices between compliant BWMS in the market.

Aron Soerensen
in Copenhagen, DK


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