On site operation of the BallastWISE Filtration Unit on a commercial vessel during commissioning testing of a BWMS.
In this article, we dive into an important finding from the experience-building phase (EBP) report associated with the Ballast Water Management Convention (2017-2021)*, which was established by the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). For creating this report, 123 detailed D-2 compliance test data sets were submitted to the MEPC from among 19 port state administrations. By analysing real-world data, the MEPC found that the presence of organisms of the large size class defined in D-2 standards (≥ 50 μm) is consistently the source of most failures for both ballast water management system (BWMS) commissioning and ballast water compliance testing.

To add onto the EBP report’s findings, we also share a trend observed in 100 commissioning tests performed by Hauschildt Marine, an approved service provider (DNV, RINA, BV, ABS) using BallastWISE to test for microorganisms in ballast water.

Organisms ≥ 50 μm in size most important to test

Of the 123 tests submitted to the MEPC, the large size class of organisms was the cause of over 90% of failed compliance tests and over 80% of failed commissioning tests. It was observed that when vessel discharge fails to meet the D-2 limit for the 10-50 μm size class, it generally also fails to meet the limit for the ≥ 50 μm size class. Therefore, testing the large size class of organisms is likely an efficient indicator of overall ballast water compliance.

Operator errors common source of failed test

According to Hauschildt’s data, one common reason for failing ballast water compliance tests seem to be errors in the operation of ballast water treatment systems. Of 100 commissioning tests which Hauschildt has performed, 4 ships failed. The fails were all due to errors by the operator, such as filter bypass. When such operator errors occur, it is clearly visible in BallastWISE tests. By frequently testing, the error can then be addressed right away.

Ballast water compliance testing methods

The ballast water management convention D-2 standards enter into force for all ships in September 2024. Currently, the D-2 standards are in force for all ships with a renewal survey after September 2019 – as of the ballast water management convention amendments made in 2019.

This means ballast water testing methods are more important than ever. Many of the currently available indicative ballast water test kits focus on testing for the small size class of organisms, however with the findings of the MEPC’s EBP report, we expect an increase in focus on testing for the large size fraction. The IMO will likely make further amendments, like the BWM Convention 2019 amendments, based on the EBP findings.

To help you get an overview of available ballast water testing methods, we have created a comparison table detailing factors such as which methods test for the large size class of organisms.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

*MEPC 78/4/1 Report on the experience-building phase associated with the Ballast Water Management Convention

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