Interagency Development of Ballast Water Discharge Standards

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The Coast Guard will work with the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in the continued development of new federal regulations on ballast water discharge standards. APHIS joins a federal partnership that also includes the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, all of which are contributing technical expertise to the Coast Guard-led federal rulemaking.

The rulemaking is intended to spur vessels to use a variety of ballast water treatment technologies to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic nonindigenous species, such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia. Ballast water is carried by vessels to ensure stability and structural integrity, and is essential to safe and efficient cargo operations. When discharged, ballast water can introduce nonindigenous species into U.S. waters. Current regulations primarily require vessels to exchange their ballast water with mid-ocean water. However, the effectiveness of this practice varies and not all vessels are able to conduct exchange. As part of the rulemaking process, the Coast Guard is evaluating the environmental impacts of setting a ballast water discharge standard. As the ballast water discharge rulemaking process moves forward, the public and interested stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide comments.

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