USCG seeks comment on ballast system organism viability testing

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 01 August 2019


An end to the matter of how the USCG determines the effectiveness of ballast water treatment systems is in sight following an announcement of a public comment period on a new draft rule.

On 31 July the USCG announced in the Federal Register that it is seeking public comment on a draft policy letter for accepting test methods that measure viability of organisms when conducting Ballast Water Management System type approval testing. The action is a result of the enactment of last December’s Coast Guard Authorization Act.

The draft policy letter establishes:

a. the accepted type-approval testing protocols for BWMS that render organisms in ballast water nonviable (meaning "permanently incapable of reproduction) and may be used in addition to the protocols established under reference (b);

b. the process for accepting type-approval testing protocols for BWMS, if any, that render organisms in ballast water nonviable and may be used in addition to the protocols established under reference (b), which includes:

(1) the process for incorporating accepted protocols into the type-approval procedures established under reference (b);

(2) the acceptance of laboratories to evaluate applicable treatment technologies; and

(3) the certification of BWMS that render nonviable organisms in ballast water.

The USCG has invited public comment on the issue. Comments must reach the Coast Guard by 30 September 2019 after which the USCG will assess comments and publish a final policy letter after incorporating the necessary changes.

To view the draft policy letter, as well as documents mentioned, go to, type “USCG-2019-0477”, and click “Search.” Then click the “Open Docket Folder.”

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