The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (the “BWMC”)

The current approach to ballast water treatment and management in HK

Currently, there is no law or regulation relating to ballast water treatment and management in Hong Kong yet.

Who will it apply to?

All new and existing ships designed or constructed to carry ballast water and entering the jurisdictions of a State Party to the Convention.

What are the exemptions?

It will not apply to ships that only operate within one jurisdiction, naval ships and other State-owned ships, or ships with permanent ballast water in sealed tanks.

What are the requirements?

For compliance with the requirements of the Convention, each ship shall have on board a Ballast Water Management Plan, a Ballast Water Record Book and a valid certificate. The Ballast Water Management Plan should be approved by the local State Administration or recognized organizations acting on its behalf.

Ships will be required to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or to avoid uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within the ballast water and sediments.

A complete list of guidelines issued by the IMO in respect of the Convention is available here.

Current Status

The Convention stipulates that it will enter into force 12 months after ratification by a minimum of 30 States representing at least 35% of the world merchant shipping tonnage. Following Finland’s recent accession bringing the combined tonnage of the contracting states to 35.1441% with 52 contracting parties, the Convention will enter into force in 8 September 2017.

Hong Kong, as an associate member of the IMO, has not formally ratified the Convention. However, it has been said in a guidelines document published by the Hong Kong Marine Department back in 2011 (available here), that Hong Kong aims to have the local legislation enter into force simultaneously with the global enforcement date. Given that the enforcement date has now been set, we anticipate the Marine Department to be issuing further notices and guidelines on whether Hong Kong will formally accept the Convention and how it is to be implemented in the very near future.

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