Now that President Trump has signed the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 into law, with the attached Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, the USCG has up to 180 days to a draft policy letter detailing reproductive methods based on best available science.
This is required due to the bill officially amending the USCG regulations to allow for the use of reproductive methods by explicitly expanding the definition of "living" to ensure that organisms that can't reproduce (non viable) are not considered to be living.
In accordance with the Act, the USCG must now consider ballast water treatment systems type-approval testing methodologies that utilise organism grow-out and most probable number (MPN) analysis to determine the number of viable organisms in ballast water capable of reproduction.
This effectively widens the scope of ballast water treatment technologies that can now be type-approved by the USGC and matches IMO's officially approved MPN reproductive method to determine viability (IMO BWM.2-Circ.61) establishing a basis for the best available science.
Following the release of the draft policy letter, a period for public comment shall be provided for no more than 90 days and the final policy shall be published no later than 360 days after the date of enactment of the Act.
The Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 also includes Federal Maritime Commission Authorization Act of 2017 (FMC), the first notable revision to the US Shipping Act since 1998 and includes some of the most significant changes to it since 1984.
The revisions to the FMC act will mainly impact the liner trade. Christopher DeLacy, leader of the Political Law Group at law firm Holland & Knight explains these revisions in his blog which can be read here.
Ballast water management, costs and compliance is one of the panel topics at the Asian Tanker Conference in Singapore in February 2019.