Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water to Minimize the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens, 1998 Edition (K661E) (eBook)

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Published Date

January 2004

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Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water to Minimize the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens, 1998 Edition (K661E) (eBook)

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These guidelines are intended to assist Governments and appropriate authorities, ship masters, operators and owners, port authorities, and other interested parties in minimising the risk of introducing harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens from ships’ ballast water and associated sediments while protecting ships’ safety.


This publication consists of resolution A.868(20), adopted in November 1997.

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The IMO Assembly in 1997, by resolution A.868(20), adopted the Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ ballast water to minimize the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens, as set out herewith. The resolution further requests Governments to take urgent action in applying these new Guidelines, including their dissemination to the shipping industry, and to use them as a basis for any measures they adopt with a view to minimizing the risks mentioned above. Governments are requested to report to the MEPC on any experience gained in implementing these Guidelines, taking into account the Committee’s ongoing work in developing legally binding provisions on ballast water management.

1. Introduction

2. Definitions

3. Application

4. Guideline objectives and background

5. Dissemination of information

6. Training and Education

7. Procedures for ships and port states

8. Recording and reporting procedures

9. Ships operational procedures

10. Port State considerations

11. Enforcement and monitoring by Port States

12. Future considerations

13. Ballast system design

Appendix 1            

Ballast water reporting form

Appendix 2

Guidance on safety aspects of ballast water exchange at sea

1 Introduction


1.1 Studies carried out in several countries have shown that many species of bacteria, plants, and animals can survive in a viable form in the ballast water and sediment carried in ships, even after journeys of several months’ duration. Subsequent discharge of ballast water or sediment into the waters of port States may result in the establishment of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens which may pose threats to indigenous human, animal and plant life, and the marine environment. Although other media have been identified as being responsible for transferring organisms between geographically separated water bodies, ballast water discharge from ships appears to have been among the most prominent.


1.2 The potential for ballast water discharge to cause harm has been recognized not only by the International Maritime Organization but also by the World Health Organization which is concerned about the role of ballast water as a medium for the spreading of epidemic disease bacteria.


1.3 These Guidelines are not to be regarded as a certain solution to the problem. Rather, each part of them should be viewed as a tool which, if correctly applied, will help to minimize the risks associated with ballast water discharge. As scientific and technological advances are made, the Guidelines will be refined to enable the risk to be more adequately addressed. In the interim, port States, flag States and other parties that can assist in mitigating this problem should exercise due care and diligence in an effort to conform to the maximum extent possible with the Guidelines.


1.4 The selection of appropriate methods of risk minimization will depend upon several factors, including the type or types of organisms being targeted, the level of risk involved, its environmental acceptability, the economic and ecological costs involved and the safety of ships.

As a specialised agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.

In other words, its role is to create a level playing-field so that ship operators cannot address their financial issues by simply cutting corners and compromising on safety, security and environmental performance. This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency.

Shipping is a truly international industry, and it can only operate effectively if the regulations and standards are themselves agreed, adopted and implemented on an international basis. And IMO is the forum at which this process takes place.

Title: Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water to Minimize the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens, 1998 Edition (K661E) (eBook)
Number of Pages: 16
Product Code: MM1295EA
ISBN: ISBN 13: 9789280114546, ISBN 10: 9280114549
Published Date: January 2004
Author: IMO

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