Ballast Water Management Plan and Duties of the Ballast Water Management Officers

Let us try and get to some better understanding of the contents of a Ballast Water Management Plan. As per the IMO Resolution A.868, all ships must have a Ballast Water Management Plan. This Plan must include at least the following:

- Safety procedures for ship and crew associated with ballast water management

- Detailed description of ballast water management practices

- Detailed procedures for disposal of sediments

- Procedures for coordinating ballast water management with coast and port states

- Designation of ballast water management officer

- Reporting requirements

Please make sure you find the shipboard management plan and go through it very carefully. Two of the world recognized and authoritative organizations, Intertanko and ICS, standing for the International Chamber of Shipping, have compiled a model plan that can easily be applied to most of vessels.

Subject plan will cover the following topics, as necessary:

- Ship particulars

- Explanation of need for the ballast water management and reporting to port states

- Ballast water arrangements

- Safety considerations

- Procedures for managing ballast water

- Ballast water sampling points

- Crew training and familiarization

- Duties of appointed ballast water management officer

- Ballast water reporting form and handing log.

As per the above mentioned IMO Resolution A.868, all ships must maintain the appropriate records to ensure that the ballast water management and all treatment procedures are followed and duly recorded. These records must include at least the following key information:

- Date

- Ship’s position

- Tanks

- Ballast water temperature

- Ballast water salinity and amount of ballast water loaded or discharged

And now, let us talk a bit about the duties and training requirements for on-board personnel. In the ballast water management plan, a ballast water management officer is to be appointed. On vessels where the chief officer usually handles the ballast water operation, he will be appointed as the ballast water management officer. On vessels where an engineer usually handles the ballast water operations, he will most likely be appointed as ballast water management officer. The ballast water management officer has the following duties:

- Ensure that the ballast water treatment or exchange follows procedures of the ballast water management plan

- Prepare the ballast water declaration form prior to arrival in port

- Be available to assist the port state control or quarantine officers for any sampling that may need to be undertaken

- Maintain the ballast water record log.

All personnel involved in ballast water handling must have adequate knowledge about ballast water management. This knowledge can be achieved by practical training on board or through the computer based training. The duties for each crew member involved in ballast water management you can find out by asking your ballast water management officer.

All officers and crew involved in ballast handing shall receive training in the following topics:

- The reason for exchange a ballast at sea

- The two main methods of exchange, namely flow-through (simultaneous filling and overflow of ballast water) and sequential(discharge and refilling of tanks)

- The means of carrying out ballast water management on board

- The reason why other means of ballast water management should not be used on board

- The location of sampling points

- Methods of sediment removal to be employed and how frequently it should be carried out

- The contingency procedure for situations that may affect the safe ballast exchange at sea to be explained.

This article was supposed to provide readers with the very basic introductory information about the Ballast Water Management Plan and the duties of the key shipboard personnel engaged in the ballasting operations. You are definitely invited and encouraged to go through the content of the training materials available here, including books, training videos and regulatory documents. As stated above, every single person involved in these operations in any way, shall possess sound understanding of the process since this is a key point for provision of the safety ballast handling operations and avoiding pollution to the marine environment.

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Ballast Water Management Methods

Let us talk about various techniques used for treating ballast water. Limiting the amount of ballast taken is the first step in an effective ballast management plan. Practices that minimize the intake of port and coastal sediments can also be effective in reducing aquatic introductions. Ballasting should be avoided in very shallow waters, in stagnant areas, in the vicinity of sewage outflows and dredging operations, in areas where known pathogens are present etc. Whenever practical, the loading of ballast water should be delayed until the ship is in open ocean waters.

Ballast water exchange is currently considered the single most practical method for ballast water management. Ballast water exchange can be accomplished by either the sequential empty-refill method or by flow through, also referred to as the overflow method. It has been reported that these methods are about 95% effective in eliminating aquatic organisms. Ballast water exchange operations should be performed in deep water away from coastal shelves and estuary influences.

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What Is Ballast Water?

Generally, ballast water is water carried in ships' ballast tanks to improve stability, balance and trim. It is taken up or discharged when cargo is unloaded or loaded, or when a ship needs extra stability in foul weather. When ships take on ballast water, plants and animals that live in the ocean are also picked.

In this article we will try to give some small background to the ballast water management which is becoming an issue of higher and higher importance to the protection of the marine environment. International shipping has been identified as one of the key pathways for the movement of species between different eco systems. Organisms and pathogens found in the ballast water and sediments in ballast tanks have significant economic and ecological impact on marine biodiversity in many regions.

They can also potentially pose a serious threat to human health from the spread of diseases and species harmful to humans. Unlike some forms of ship-sourced environmental harm, the problem arises from the activity inherent to ship's operation. Currently, there is no entirely satisfactory means of preventing the transfer of species in ballast water.

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