372 - 07/04 - USCG Enforcing Ballast Water Management Regulations - USA


We have been advised that from 13th August 2004, the USCG will begin enforcing US ballast water management regulations.  The master, owner, operator or person-in-charge of any ship equipped with ballast water tanks that is bound for ports or places in US waters must ensure that complete and accurate Ballast Water Management (BWM) reports are submitted in accordance with 33 CFR 151.2041, and signed BWM records are kept on board the ship for a minimum of two years in accordance with 33 CFR 151.2045.

The final rule titled "Penalties for Non-submission of Ballast Water Management Reports," (33 CFR 151, subpart D, as amended 14th

June 2004) implements a maximum US $27,500 a day civil penalty and class C felony provisions for failing to submit BWM reports and failing to maintain BWM records. The final rule also expands existing BWM reporting and record keeping requirements to include all ships equipped with ballast water tanks that transit to any US port or place of destination, regardless of whether the ship operated outside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the US or equivalent Canadian zone.

We expect that the USCG Captain of the Port (COTP) will in most cases take a tiered approach to enforcement actions starting with Letters of Warning (LOW), Notices of Violation (NOV), Civil Penalties, suspension and revocation (S&R), Captain of the Port Orders and then, in a worst case situation, criminal charges. Conversely, COTP'S may also consider including superior compliance recognition programs for those operators who continuously show superior compliance with new or existing BWM requirements.

The only ships that are exempt from the mandatory BWM requirements under the final rule are:

  • Ships that operate exclusively within one COTP zone;
  • Crude oil tankers engaged in coastwise trade; and
  • Ships of the Department of Defense, Coast Guard, or any of the armed services as defined within 33 USC 1322 (a) and (n).

The table on the following page shows the details of sending the Ballast Water Management Report Form found at the end of this Advisory.

Source of Information: 

Corbett and Holt, LLC / Gallagher Marine Systems Inc

National Ballast Information Clearinghouse (NBIC)


Staff Author