Ballasting on a ship is done for ship stability and also to maintain structural integrity. The ballast water which is mostly pumped directly from the sea can contain aquatic microbes, algae and animals, which would then be transported and released into ecosystems where they are alien to.
To minimize the deleterious effects of ballast operations to the marine ecosystem due to the transfer of microbes from one region to another, the International Maritime Organization at a Ballast Water Convention stipulated that all vessels should manage their ballast water.
The convention recommends treating ballast water using an approved Ballast Water Management System (BWMS). All vessels are required to carry a ship-specific ballast water management plan and an International Ballast Water Management Certificate.
What is Ballast Water Management Plan?
Ballast Water Management Plan (BWMP) is a guideline for ballast operations onboard a vessel in order to comply with the requirements for the control and management of ship’s ballast water and sediments as regulated by the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention of the Internation Maritime Organization (IMO).
The BWMP is aimed at helping governments, regulatory authorities, vessels' Masters, operators, owners and port authorities to prevent, minimize and ultimately eliminate the risk of introducing harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens from vessels' ballast water and associated sediments while protecting vessels' safety.
Contents of Ballast Water Management Plan include:
- Vessel Particulars
- Ship’s name
- Port of registry
- Gross tonnage
- IMO number
- Length (LBP)
- Vessel type
- International call sign
- Deepest ballast draughts (normal/heavy weather)
- Designated ballast water management officer to ensure plan is properly implemented.
- Main ballast water management method(s):
- D-1 (ballast water exchange): (Sequential, flow-through, dilution)
- D-2 (ballast water treatment): (example: UV + filter)
- Total ballast water capacity of the ship in cubic meters including ballast tanks details such as quantity, capacity, locations, pumps available, etc.
- Ballast water Pumps: type, rated capacity, locations, quantity
- Description of the main ballast water management system: treatment system details, Operation of the treatment equipment, etc
- Safety and emergency procedures for the ship and the crew associated with Ballast Water Management
- Procedures for the disposal of Sediments:
- at sea
- to shore
- Procedures for coordinating shipboard BWM that involves discharge to the sea with the authorities of the State into whose waters such discharge will take place
- Method of communication such as the reporting requirements for ships provided for under the Convention.
The BWMP is generally written in the working language of the ship. If the language used is not English, French or Spanish, a translation into one of these languages shall be included.