New Ballast Regulations in Canada

In order to strengthen existing ballast rules, the Government of Canada has recently introduced new Ballast Water Regulations for Canadian vessels everywhere in the world and vessel sailing in Canadian waters, marking the transition from the traditional method of ballast water management (the exchange of ballast water in mid-ocean) to the use of modern ballast water management systems (which clean ballast water of organisms before release).

What is new?

With the new introduced rules, based on the global approach to managing ballast water, by 2024 Canadian ships travelling abroad and those coming into Canada from abroad are required to:

  • plan their ballast water management;
  • reduce the number of organisms by typically installing a ballast water management system;
  • carry a valid certificate;
  • keep records;
  • be regularly surveyed and inspected.

For sensitive Canadian fresh waters, vessels arriving in these waters from another country (other than from U.S. Great Lakes waters) will still be required to exchange their ballast water in mid-ocean in addition to using a ballast water management system. Smaller vessels may follow an equivalent approach tailored to their operations and size.

The new regulations reflect years of discussion with international partners, industry scientists, engineers and US legislators and regulators and come to address Canada’s obligations under the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004. Canada plans to continue to work with the U.S. towards binational compatibility to strengthen the protection of shared waters and facilitate vessel compliance. Although the U.S. has not joined the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, both countries plan to co-operate under agreements such as the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, aiming to have compatible regulations.

Expected benefits

The Government of Canada expects the new regulations to prevent the introduction and spread of specifically 34 species, five of which are considered severely damaging species, by 2044. From an economic point of view, preventing harm to the environment through the new regulations, is expected to provide C$980m ($795.4) over the same period.

It is estimated that by 2030, at Canadian Great Lakes ports, the use of ballast water management systems by all vessels will help reduce the spread of invasive species by 82%.

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