The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is responsible for protecting the marine environment from the harmful impacts of shipping. The IMO develops global standards for ships to prevent the spread of invasive species and potentially harmful pathogens with the ability to destroy or disrupt foreign ecosystems.

The IMO adopted The Ballast Water Management Convention (the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004) on September 8th 2017. The convention includes two performance standards: Regulation D-1 and Regulation D-2. 

  • The D-1 standard relates to ballast water exchange and requires ships to exchange at least 95% of the ballast water far from the coast.
  • The D-2 standard covers approved ballast water treatment systems and states the maximum amount of viable organisms that can be discharged into the sea. As a result, ships in international traffic must remove or neutralise  aquatic organisms and pathogens in their ballast water before letting it out into a new location. 

To stay compliant, each ship must always carry a ballast water management plan, a ballast water record book and a valid international ballast water management certificate on board.

All ships must currently conform to at least the D-1 standard, while all new ships must abide by the D-2 regulations. However, all ships will eventually have to meet the D-2 standard, which requires installing a type-approved ballast water management system to treat the ballast water. 

According to the implementation schedule agreed upon by the IMO Member Governments, meeting in the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), all ships must abide by the D2 standards by September 8th 2024.

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