Letter from the Chamber of Shipping of America. Published on February 12, 2016.

Larger container ship carrying a full load of cargo while passing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California USA.

On December 14, 2015, the United States Coast Guard (“USCG”) issued preliminary decisions that would prevent shipping companies, including those that are members of the Chamber of Shipping of America (CSA), from utilizing one of the most environmentally friendly and practical Ballast Water Management System (“BWMS”) developed to-date. Specifically, the USCG has preliminarily rejected the Most Probable Number (“MPN”) method for testing the efficacy of BWMSs that utilize ultraviolet (“UV”) technology to render organisms unable to reproduce. This action, if affirmed by senior USCG officials, would have significant adverse economic impacts on the entire shipping industry and adverse economic and environmental impacts throughout the world. We request that the USCG approve the 46 C.F.R. § 162.060-10(b)(1) requests and type approval applications for BWMSs that use UV technology to render organisms unable to reproduce, as measured by the MPN method.

It appears that the USCG is attempting to impose a regulatory restriction on BWMS type approvals that goes beyond the requirements utilized by other member nations of the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”). It is our understanding that this preliminary decision also goes beyond the requirements and intent of the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act, as amended by the National Invasive Species Act (“NISA”), to prevent and control infestations of nonindigenous aquatic species. The USCG’s preliminary rejection of the MPN method prevents U.S. type approval of UV technology-based BWMSs that render organisms non-reproductive, and therefore unable to colonize, because the efficacy of such systems is determined by using the MPN method. This preliminary rejection of the MPN method appears arbitrary and contrary to practice within most, if not all, other IMO member nations, and is even contrary to other use of the MPN method within the U.S.