The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are jointly requesting proposals for ballast water technology demonstration projects. Nearly $2.1 million, and/or the use of MARAD’s Ready Reserve Force ships as test platforms, will be made available for successful proposals. Interested parties may apply for funding, for use of a vessel, or both.
Every day, large quantities of ballast water from areas all around the world are discharged from ships into the waters of the United States. In this ballast water are plants, animals, bacteria and pathogens that are not native to our nation’s ecosystems. Some of these organisms are microscopic; others may be large plants or free-swimming fish. Many have the potential to become aquatic nuisance species
(ANS), which displace native species, degrade native habitats, spread disease, and disrupt human, social and economic activities that depend on our aquatic resources. Any ship carrying ballast water is a potential source of such invasion.
The Federal Ballast Water Demonstration Project is a multi-agency effort that began with the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued in the Federal Register on June 6, 2002 [Federal Register: June 6, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 109)] [Page 38394 – 38939]. The RFP requests proposals for demonstration projects that may be funded under the NOAA Sea Grant Program and through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with MARAD Ready Reserve Force vessels available as test platforms. The Ready Reserve Force (RRF) is a fleet of cargo vessels maintained by MARAD and crewed by civilian mariners. The RRF is used for sealift in military action and in emergencies.
During the past two years, some testing of new technologies has occurred aboard various privately owned vessels and at facilities and labs around the nation, but there has not yet been any large-scale testing and demonstrations aboard ships. Through this program, MARAD has developed a two-phased approach to move the ballast water treatment technology from laboratory testing to testing and demonstration aboard commercial ships. The first phase of the program will involve the use of RRF vessels at stationary sites on the East and West coasts of the U.S. as large test platforms. Technologies successful in the first phase will then move on to the sea trials. Promising technologies will then move on to phase two: pilot demonstrations on commercially operating U.S.-flag vessels.
The deadline for proposals for use of a MARAD ship is July 8, 2002. Proposals for NOAA funding are due July 22, 2002. Awards are expected to be made by August 15, 2002.