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Web Alert: USCG ballast water violation & penalties

21 February 2017

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has published a news release confirming that after an investigation of ballast water discharge violations, they have initiated civil penalty proceedings against a vessel’s operator.

Apparently the accused vessel discharged ballast water without the use of a Coast Guard-approved ballast water management system or other approved means, which is in violation of the National Invasive Species Act and may be subjected to a maximum penalty of US$ 38,175.

Members are reminded that while the IMO’s adopted Ballast Water Management Convention will come into force on 8 September 2017; the U.S. ballast water standards went into effect in June 2012 and applies to any ship planning to discharge ballast water in US waters (i.e., generally within 12 miles of the U.S. coast).

Members with ships trading in US waters are reminded that the discharge of ballast water must be done in accordance with U.S. regulations or ensure proper waivers or extensions are processed through the USCG. Conditions associated with such waivers or extensions need to be satisfied. Please refer to Standard Club Circular on BWMC and USCG guidance on ballast water management for clarification on compliance.

Members are also reminded that P&I cover for fines involving non-compliance to ballast water requirements, except for accidental discharges, will be discretionary (similar to MARPOL violations). In such cases, members will be required to satisfy the board that all reasonable steps had been taken to avoid the event giving rise to the fine.