International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention)

While ballast water is essential for safe and efficient modern shipping operations, it may pose serious ecological, economic and health problems due to the multitude of marine species carried in ships’ ballast water.

The Convention will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 40 States, representing 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage. It is likely that the threshold value of 35% will be exceeded. If the IMO check will confirm the trigger point has been reached, this means the Convention will entry into force the 24th November 2016.

After more than 14 years of complex negotiations between IMO Member States, the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) was adopted by consensus at a Diplomatic Conference held at IMO Headquarters in London on 13 February 2004.

The Convention will require all ships to implement a Ballast Water and Sediments Management Plan. All ships will have to carry a Ballast Water Record Book and will be required to carry out ballast water management procedures to a given standard. Parties to the Convention are given the option to take additional measures which are subject to criteria set out in the Convention and to IMO guidelines.

The Convention

The BWM Convention will apply to ships flying the flag of a Party except:

  1. ships not designed or constructed to carry ballast water
  2. ships operating exclusively in waters under the jurisdiction of a Party, unless the party determines that the discharge of ballast water from such ships would impair or damage their environment
  3. warships, naval auxiliary or other ships owned or operated by a Party
  4. ships with permanent ballast water not subject to discharge.

Exemptions from the management of ballast water may be granted to ships on voyages between specified ports or operated exclusively between specified ports or locations when ballast water is not mixed other than between these ports or locations.

These exemptions shall be effective for a period not exceeding five years, subject to intermediate review. Moreover, BWM.2/Circ.32, dated 8 August 2011, specifies that provisions of the Convention are not applicable to the water in the hopper area of hopper dredgers.

Ships to which the Convention applies will be required to carry on board the following:

  1. a “Ballast Water Management Plan” approved by the Administration, detailing safety procedures and actions to be taken to implement the ballast water management requirements
  2. a “Ballast Water Record Book” for the recording of each operation concerning ballast water management
  3. an “International Ballast Water Management Certificate” (for ships of 400 gross tonnage and above excluding floating platforms, FSUs and FPSOs) with a five year validity and subject to annual, intermediate and renewal surveys.

Port State Controls will be authorized to inspect ships verifying:

  1. validity of the certificate
  2. presence on board of documents required by the Convention
  3. compliance with the requirements of the Convention of the ballast water carried on board, performing samples.

For more information, please download the BWM Information brochure available in this section.

The Ballast Water Management convention will come into force, 12 months after 30 countries representing a combined total gross tonnage of more than 35% of the world’s merchant fleet have ratified it. As of 6th May 2016, total of 49 countries representing a combined tonnage of 34.79% of the world’s merchant fleet have ratified the convention. We will be updating this page with more details soon.