Coast Guard Proposes National Ballast Water Management Program

Wednesday, July 30, 2003
The U.S. Coast Guard is proposing mandating vessels equipped with ballast tanks take measures to prevent and control the spread of nonindigenous species in U.S. waters through ballast water discharges. Nonindigenous aquatic plant and animal species (NIS) are increasingly viewed as a global environmental problem with large and long-lasting ecological and economic impacts. Introduced into habitats where they are not native, NIS can degrade ecosystems, resulting in billions of dollars of direct and indirect costs annually, as well as adverse effects on human health and lifestyles. In a Federal Register notice of proposed rulemaking published on July 30, the Coast Guard, under authority in the National Invasive Species Act of 1996, outlines a mandatory national ballast water management program for all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks that operate in U.S. waters and/or enter U.S. waters after operating beyond the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Specifically, vessels entering U.S. waters after operating beyond the EEZ would be required to employ at least one of the following ballast water management practices: · Prior to discharging ballast water in U.S. waters, perform complete ballast water exchange in an area no less than 200 nautical miles from any shore; · Retain ballast water onboard the vessel; · Prior to the vessel entering U.S. waters, use an alternative environmentally sound method of ballast water management that has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard; or · Discharge ballast water to an approved reception facility.

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