Consultation starts on draft regulations to implement into UK law the requirements of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWM Convention)
A consultation process has been started by the UK Government through the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (which is responsible for implementing British and international maritime law and safety policy), on the draft Merchant Shipping (Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments) Regulations 2021, which will form the basis of the UK acceding to IMO’s BWM Convention.
The UK does not presently have legislation in place that enables the discharge of ballast water from ships to be controlled. Introducing the draft regulations will enable the UK to ensure that UK ships, wherever they may be, are compliant with the requirements of the BWM Convention and that ships entering UK waters, regardless of flag, provide the same level of protection from the threat of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens.
The draft regulations require that ballast water treatment systems be type-approved.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency recognises that the impact is expected to be limited, as vessels which are operating internationally will already need to be in compliance with the requirements of the BWM Convention if they are operating in the waters of a state that has ratified the BWM Convention.
Introducing the draft regulations will bring the UK in line with the 86 states that have already ratified and introduced legislation to implement the BWM Convention.
The implementation of the BWM Convention requires the introduction of new regulations, including new offences and penalties, as there is no existing legislation in place. The consultation process asks for specific views on: whether the impact assessment represents a true reflection of the impact of the proposals, and whether the draft regulations would implement the requirements of the BWM Convention accurately and appropriately.
It also asks for guidance on whether the offences and penalties are appropriate and whether the proposed guidance to accompany the draft regulations is adequate.
The consultation period ends at 1800 (UK time) on 16 June 2021. The consultation document, draft regulations, supporting material and evaluation form can be downloaded here.