Ballast water

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The purpose of the ballast water management convention is to prevent the introduction of invasive species from ships' ballast water. Read more about the status of the convention here.

The ballast water management convention was adopted by the IMO in 2004, and Denmark acceded to it in 2012. The convention will enter into force on 8 September 2017.

In general, Denmark is striving for the convention to be phased in in a manner that will not impose unnecessary burdens on the industry and that is practicable.

In Denmark, there are several manufacturers of ballast water management systems. Therefore, the convention can contribute positively to the development of green maritime technologies that may contribute to creating green growth and jobs.

Facts on the ballast water management convention


The application dates of the convention were amended by means of an Assembly resolution in 2013.

This means that all ships constructed before the entry into force of the convention are considered existing ships. In general, these existing ships must start cleaning their ballast water 5 years after the entry into force of the convention. The exact date will be when the ship is subjected to its first renewal survey of the IOPP certificate after the entry into force of the convention. After the entry into force, all new-buildings will be required to clean their ballast water.

However, at its recent session in October 2016, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO considered the application dates and this has raised doubt about whether they will be postponed for 2 years. This issue will be considered again in July 2017.


At the last meeting, the Danish-developed concept of "Same Risk Area" was considered, and it was decided that it is possible to use the concept now, while guidelines G7 on risk assessments can be adjusted at MEPC 71 so that the "Same Risk Area" is mentioned and defined in the guidelines. This means that - instead of making a risk assessment per ship route, which is the requirement today - it is possible to make a risk assessment for an area (following agreement among the authorities in the countries affected), which will be considerably easier to handle for both shipowners and authorities.

Type approval

Ballast water management systems are type-approved in accordance with IMO guidelines.

A revision of guidelines G8 on the quality and testing of ballast water management systems was finalised at the meeting through the adoption of the revised guidelines. In addition, the guidelines will become mandatory and rewritten into a code.


The IMO has considered the procedures for the practical sampling and testing performed in connection with port State control inspections. These discussions have proven to be difficult and therefore the drafting of these procedures has been postponed. Port State control procedures have been established, but a sampling method has not been developed yet. Therefore, it has been decided to postpone the sampling part of the port State control for two or three years after the entry into force of the convention.


Maritime Regulation and Legal Affairs
Clea Henrichsen, Special Adviser, M.Sc.(Eng)
+45 72 19 63 69