From Ballast Water Treatment Technology. Published on February 29, 2016.

Here in the UK, we have embarked on a divisive debate about our membership of the EU: should we stay or should we go? This is not the place to debate that argument, but one commentator reported a revealing conversation he once had with a US trade negotiator working on a deal between the US and the EU that was taking longer to agree than had been expected.

It was taking time, the official had said, because the US had met its equal. When it negotiates with individual countries, he explained, “normally we just fax them our terms and tell them to sign.”

There is a parallel here with ballast water regulations. IMO and the rest of the world has committed itself to the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC). The US has instead written its own rules with different standards and they have come into force. In reality, these are the global measures that shipowners must adhere to. These are our terms, the US has said; sign here.

So what that there are no systems yet that are type-approved to deliver treated ballast water that meets the US Coast Guard standards? So what that there is little clarity over how port inspectors will test against the standard? So what that it costs manufacturers millions of dollars to work through the type-approval process? And so what that the only three manufacturers to jump through all the hoops have been told that the testing process they have relied on thus far is not, after all, acceptable to the USCG?