national requirements, which operators of vessels in international trade would find difficult to understand and comply with. The committee proposes that, in the interest of simplifying compliance, the United States develop domestic guidelines for managing ballast water that mirror the IMO voluntary guidelines. The implementation of national guidelines would be facilitated by a targeted education program for those directly involved in managing ballast water.

Regional initiatives include those in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. A notable feature of these regional initiatives is the involvement of a broad group of participants, including the representatives of the shipping industry, ports, the scientific community, and regional, state, and federal governments. Cooperation at the regional level goes beyond legal mandates. The committee judged this kind of cooperation to be an important factor in addressing the problem of nonindigenous species transfer, which is not simply an issue for the shipping industry but has implications for society as a whole.

The committee identified measures that could be taken now—in parallel with research and development and demonstration programs—to facilitate managing ballast water. The mandatory maintenance of logs recording all ballast water movements was addressed above. The committee also anticipates that onboard monitoring of basic water quality parameters could be implemented in the near future. In addition, the committee determined that the development of a plan to manage ballast water, in conjunction with the cargo plan, would provide flexibility in loading and discharging ballast water. The plan should be mandatory when the ports of call include one or more known sources of unwanted organisms.


On the basis of its review, the committee recommends the following:

Recommendation for the U.S. Coast Guard. Managing the unintentional introduction of nonindigenous organisms into U.S. waters through ballast water should follow two parallel courses:

  • Support current international activities conducted under the auspices of IMO.

  • Introduce national voluntary guidelines to minimize the risk of introductions until such time as mandatory international standards can be developed. These guidelines should require a plan for ballast water loading and discharge, developed in conjunction with the cargo plan for each voyage.

Recommendation for the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force. The following actions should be taken as part of the cooperative national program to prevent unintentional introductions of nonindigenous organisms through ballast water:

  • The United States should support and encourage the early elaboration of a new annex to MARPOL 73/78 making the existing voluntary guidelines mandatory; meanwhile, the IMO-sponsored voluntary guidelines should be continuously reviewed and updated.

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