MARINA sets rules, regulations for ballast water management

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), through its Circular No. SR-2020-05, has set rules and regulations for the control and management of ships’ ballast water and sediments to ensure that all Philippine Registered Ships plying in the international trade, as well as international ships plying Philippine waters, are compliant with the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWM Convention).

The publication of the rules and regulations revolving around ballast water management also aligns with the Agency’s mission to promote cleaner seas through sustainable and responsible maritime practices, and to implement effective measures to minimize the uptake and subsequent discharge of sediments and organisms, which may be invasive and eventually destroy indigenous marine ecosystems.

The regulation of ballast water is vital to the effectiveness and safety of shipping operations. Some of its essential features include reducing stress on a vessel’s hull and decreasing the vibrations that can be felt by the crew aboard, improving their living conditions. However, data has also shown that ballast water has significant adverse effects on human health and the marine environment.

For this reason, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted the BWM Convention, which regulates and prevents the unsupervised discharge of ballast water that contains harmful pathogens and aquatic organisms that may affect a specific region’s biodiversity and marine wildlife.

The provisions outlined in the Circular apply to vessels capable of carrying ballast water and those who are authorized to operate in international waters. However, some ships are categorized as exempted from the regulations. These include vessels operating exclusively in waters under the Philippines’ jurisdiction, operating under the authority of regional agreements, pleasure crafts that are less than 50 meters in overall length, and ships that are engaged in search and rescue operations.

MC No. SR-2020-05 requires all ships that are plying Philippine waters to carry the International Ballast Water Management Certificate (IBWMC) for ships plying the flag of countries party to the Convention. Aside from this, ships are also required to have an approved Ballast Water Management Plan and a Ballast Record Book on board.

An International Ballast Water Management (BWM) Certificate will be issued after the Administration conducts a BWM survey for newly constructed ships or when there is a request for an exemption from the Circular. BWM surveys will also be conducted for existing vessels that are installing a Ballast Water Treatment System or Ballast Water Management system.

A BWM Certificate will be valid five (5) years from the date of issue and will continue to be valid only when it has undergone an annual endorsement by the MARINA or its recognized organizations. A new certificate will have to be issued if a BMW Certificate has not been endorsed after three (3) months of its anniversary date.

The Agency is also tasked to undertake random and periodic inspections of Philippine-Overseas Registered ships calling any Philippine ports to ensure that all are compliant with the regulations provided by MC No. SR-2020-05.

The MARINA continues to pursue efforts to promote sustainable and responsible shipping operations through the establishment of necessary procedures and issuances.

For the complete provisions of this Circular, visit this link.