In order to maintain navigability, stability and integrity, ocean-going vessels may take on, discharge, or redistribute ballast water during the course of normal operations. During cargo loading and unloading, for example – or as a vessel encounters rough seas, or transits through shallow waterways or under bridges – ballast water is frequently used to maintain balance and weight distribution aboard ships. Typically, a vessel takes on ballast water after cargo is unloaded in one port and discharges ballast water when cargo is loaded in another port. This transfer of ballast water can result in the movement of species around the world and gives rise to the potential introduction of invasive species. Once established, these species can cause significant environmental, economic, and human health impacts.
California enacted the Marine Invasive Species Act in order to limit the introduction of non-indigenous species into the state’s waters. Among the related requirements, the SLC must adopt additional regulations to restrict or prohibit discharge of non-indigenous species using “the best available technology economically achievable.” The act also calls for vigorous treatment and final performance standards of zero detectable living organisms in ballast water by 2020.
According to an assessment made by the State Lands Commission, however, there is currently no technology available to meet California’s demanding ballast water standards. Unless the standards are amended, or their implementation date is postponed in order for technological advancement, vessels may be unable to comply with California’s requirements.
Ballast Water Management | California State Lands Commission
Performance Standards for Ballast Water Discharge | California State Lands Commission
Assessing Compliance with California’s Ballast Water Management Laws: From Exchange to Performance Standards | California State Lands Commission
AB 1312 Support Letter | CAPA