Do the ballast water rules apply to all?

Because the aim of the convention is to prevent species transfer it is clear that for ships which operate only in restricted areas, the need for ballast management does not exist as the same species will be present throughout the area in any case.

Regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention recognises this fact and permits any single port state or groupings of port states to permit exemptions. There are restrictions contained within the regulation as detailed below:

**1. `A Party or Parties, in waters under their jurisdiction, may grant exemptions to any requirements to apply regulations B-3 or C-1, in addition to those exemptions contained elsewhere in this Convention, but only when they are:`**

– `granted to a ship or ships on a voyage or voyages between specified ports or locations or to a ship which operates exclusively between specified ports or locations;`
– `effective for a period of no more than five-years subject to intermediate review;`
– `granted to ships that do not mix Ballast Water or Sediments other than between the ports or locations specified in paragraph 1.1; and`
– `granted based on the Guidelines on risk assessment developed by the Organization.`

**2. `Exemptions granted pursuant to paragraph 1 shall not be effective until after communication to the Organization and circulation of relevant information to the Parties.`**

3. `Any exemptions granted under this regulation shall not impair or damage the environment, human health, property or resources of adjacent or other States. Any State that the Party determines may be adversely affected shall be consulted, with a view to resolving any identified concerns.`

4. `Any exemptions granted under this regulation shall be recorded in the Ballast Water record book.`

As at March 2017, no regional exemption arrangements are in place. There are however discussions between some states in the Baltic and also in South East Asia that could result in common risk zones being established in the very near future.

A further possible exemption is available to ships if they discharge ballast water to reception facilities approved under the G5 guideline. This is an option that has been promoted by numerous parties and there are projects being developed in India and the Netherlands involving treatment systems installed in barges or ballast boats or even containerised systems placed on shore at terminals.