821 - 04/12 - USCG Ballast Water Management, Final Rules - USA

After consultation the United States Coast Guard have issue their final rules regarding Ballast Water Management. These rules replace the interim rules currently in place.


These new rules create a standard for the allowable concentration of living organisms discharged into United States waters from a vessels ballast tanks. These rules are consistent with the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments.

 The Final Rule requires all vessels to install and operate an approved ballast water management system (BWMS) in order for that vessel to discharge ballast water into US waters.  The Full text of these rules comes into effect as of 21 June 2012 however the practical application and enforcement of these rules follows a phased schedule over several years.

Members with vessels which regularly enter US waters are encouraged to become familiar with these new rules with particular attention paid to the implementation schedule.


New vessels (those constructed on or after 1st December 2013) are required to have a US approved system installed upon delivery.

Of note US Coast Guard approved BWMSs must meet the following ballast water discharge standards:

1. For organisms greater than or equal to 50 micrometers in minimum dimension:  Discharge must include fewer than 10 organisms per cubic meter of ballast water.
2. For organisms less than 50 micrometers and greater than or equal to 50 micrometers:  Discharge must include fewer than 10 organisms per milliliter of ballast water.
3. Toxigenic Vibrio cholera (serotypes O1 and O139) must have a concentration of less than one colony forming unit per 100 milliliters.
4. Escherichia coli must have a concentration of less than 250 colony forming units per 100 milliliters.
5. Intestinal enterococci must have a concentration of less than 100 colony forming units per 100 milliliters.


An longer executive summary of these final Rules can be found at the following address;

The following address to the United States Coast Guard contains links to all related matters including the full text of the Rules as published 23rd March 2012;

Details of the IMO Ballast Water Management convention can be found here;


Source of Information: 
Blank Rome LLP
New York



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