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INTERTANKO cautiously welcomes Entry Into Force of IMO BWMC

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Katharina Stanzel

Katharina Stanzel

INTERTANKO cautiously welcomes Entry Into Force of IMO Ballast Water Management Convention

Finland has deposited its instrument of ratification to the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention bringing the Convention into force on 8 September 2017. The Finnish tonnage raises the percentage of world tonnage to 35.1441%. Combined with the total number of ratifying States, 52, the entry into force requirements of 30 States representing 35% of the world’s merchant fleet have now been met.

In the wake of the ratification of the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention by Finland, INTERTANKO is advising its Members to remain focused and cautious in the months ahead as the industry makes plans for the installation of ballast water management systems to meet the Convention’s requirements after its entry into force on 8 September 2017.

Ratification and Entry into Force

Finland deposited its instrument of ratification to the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention during the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers meeting held in London this week. The Convention will therefore enter into force on 8 September 2017. All ships constructed before that date will have to install a BWMS at their first renewal survey associated with the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate under MARPOL Annex I after 8 September 2017.  All ships constructed** after that date will have to install a BWMS upon delivery.

INTERTANKO’s Managing Director, Katharina Stanzel, commented that: “The entry into force of an international Convention providing global requirements will always be welcomed by INTERTANKO and the international shipping industry. In practical terms this development provides certainty for owners with a firm date now in place from which installation and dry docking schedules can be determined. However, this must be balanced against the fact that the IMO has yet to complete its work on reviewing and revising the G-8 type approval guidelines for ballast water management systems.”

IMO Type Approvals and First Generation Ballast Systems

INTERTANKO’s Environment Director, Tim Wilkins, added that: “INTERTANKO and its industry partners have pushed hard for more robust type approval procedures for ballast water management systems”, something that IMO member States are now considering in a full review of the procedures. However, he added that: “While the revised type approval guidelines are now likely to be completed in advance of the entry into force of the Convention, there remains uncertainty as to when an owner will be able to install ‘second generation’ ballast water management systems actually tested and approved using the amended guidelines. It will take a reasonable amount of time before manufacturers are able to attain type approval and ensure such systems are commercially available. This would place some owners in the position of having to install ‘first’ generation ballast water management systems at substantial expense that may not work and/or may not meet the environmental objectives of the Convention.”

Wilkins concluded by adding that: “We have requested the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) in a paper submitted together with industry partners, to consider this matter in the context of the Convention’s implementation schedule when the Committee next meets in October this year.”

US Type Approvals

In Washington, INTERTANKO’s Deputy Managing Director, Joe Angelo, noted that: “The early ratification adds a further complication when considering the lack of availability of any USCG type approved systems.’ Mr. Angelo repeated the advisory issued earlier this year by INTERTANKO regarding the quandary that owners will be placed in if the IMO Convention is ratified when there are no USCG type approved systems available on the market. “This situation puts owners at the risk of having to install an IMO type approved system that may never achieve USCG type approval,” he said. “If the chosen system does not obtain USCG approval, it will have to be replaced within 5 years in order to continue to trade to the US. A shipowner, who in good faith wants to comply with international and national ballast water management requirements, therefore faces an unacceptable position of having to possibly invest twice in a BWMS through no fault of his or her own.”

INTERTANKO will continue to advise its Members on developments relating to the application of the IMO’s revised type approval guidelines and the protection of early-movers, while also monitoring and advising Members on the progress being made by the USCG to type approve BWM Systems.

** Constructed in respect of a ship means a stage of construction where: .1 The keel is laid; or .2 construction identifiable with the specific ship begins; or .3 assembly of the ship has commenced comprising at least 50 tonnes of 1 per cent of the estimated mass of all structural material, whichever is less; or .4 the ship undergoes a major conversion.


INTERTANKO is the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners. INTERTANKOhas been the voice of independent tanker owners since 1970, ensuring that the liquid energy that keeps the world turning is shipped safely, responsibly and competitively.

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