Ballast water is water taken in by ships to help balance the vessel. Ships usually load ballast water in one coastal area and expel them in another. This discharge not only transfers water but also living organisms that bring harm to the ecosystem they are dumped in.

Treating ballast water is, therefore, crucial to protecting and preserving the environment. The Ballast Water Management Convention of 2004 is only one of the safeguards instituted to achieve this goal. However, it is still currently not in full effect, because of the lack of representation—only 34.87% of the world’s tonnage so far. For full implementation, 35% should accede to the Convention.

In order to treat ballast water, ships must be equipped with a ballast water management system (BWMS); this system should also meet the standard set in the Convention. BWMSs that meet Convention standards are issued a License. Ship owners seeking to install a BWMS in their ships should fit their ships with a BWMS that is licensed by the IMO.


Manufacturers seeking licenses for their products need to send detailed plans for the design of the BWMS. After this, the BWMS would be tested and granted a license, when it passes. Below are some guidelines for approving BWMS taken from the IMO’s G8:


1)The BWMS should not contain substances that would make the water more harmful after treatment.

2)All working parts of the BWMS must be easily accessed to facilitate maintenance.

3)The equipment for treating the water should be suitable to the environment in ships.

4)An adequate control system should be provided to expedite the treatment of ballast water.

5)The control system should automatically monitor treatment dosages and intensities.

For the full list of guidelines and the all its details, read the IMO’s “GUIDELINES FOR APPROVAL OF BALLAST WATER MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (G8).”

Do your part in protecting the environment. Treat your ballast water to keep the ecosystem safe from harm!