In this exclusive summary for BWTT, Captain Andrew Norris, US Coast Guard (retired), reviews the update to the USCG’s Alternate Management System, published earlier this month
On 13 July, the US Coast Guard (USCG) issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 010/16, entitled Alternate Management System (AMS) Program Update. This MSIB “provides updates on aspects of the Coast Guard’s AMS program,” and “clarifies CG-OES Policy Letter No. 13-01, revision 2, by providing details on the five-year AMS provision” in the Coast Guard’s ballast water management regulations.
The USCG ballast water management regulations are set out in Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 151, Subparts C and D. Whereas Subpart C applies only to the Great Lakes and the Hudson River, Subpart D applies more generally to waters of the United States; thus, this article will focus only on Subpart D.
Generally, Subpart D provides that by a vessel’s compliance date as specified in 33 CFR 151.2035 (referred to as the “original compliance date”), the master, owner, operator, agent, or person in charge (master et al) of a non-exempt vessel desiring to discharge ballast water into waters of the United States (defined as those waters out to 12 nautical miles from the baseline) must either: (1) ensure that the ballast water meets the ballast water discharge standard as defined in 33 CFR 151.2030(a); (2) use an AMS as described in 33 CFR 151.2025(a)(3); or (3) ballast with water from a US public water system, as described in 33 CFR 151.2025(a)(2).1
The compliance date may be extended if the master et al in charge of a non-exempt vessel can document that, despite all efforts, compliance with these requirements is not possible.2 It is envisioned that option (1) above will be achieved by installation of a US type-approved ballast water management system (BWMS).
The AMS provisions are a “bridging strategy” to allow vessels that had installed BWMSs in anticipation of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) coming into force to use those systems in US waters, subject to certain limitations.
First of all, systems must be accepted and designated as such by the USCG, which requires, among other things, that the system has been type-approved by a foreign administration pursuant to the standards set forth in the BWMC.3 Such an approved system must be installed on the vessel prior to its compliance date, and may be used no longer than five years from the vessel’s compliance date.4
Policy Letter 13-01, revision 2, and now the MSIB, addresses some of the difficult issues raised by the AMS programme; specifically:
• Read MSIB 010/16 here.
Captain Andrew Norris, US Coast Guard (retired), is a maritime attorney and consultant. He spoke on ballast water regulatory compliance at Posidonia 2016 in Athens, Greece. He can be reached at email@example.com, or +1 (401) 871-7482.
1 33 CFR 151.2035(a)
2 33 CFR 151.2036
3 33 CFR 151.2026(a)
4 33 CFR 151.2025(a)(3); 33 CFR 151.2026(c)