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Ballast Water

Ballast water discharged from ships is one of the largest pathways for the introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS). In response to national concern regarding ANS, the National Invasive Species Act of 1996 (NISA) was enacted which reauthorized and amended the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990 (NANPCA). NISA required the Coast Guard to establish national voluntary ballast water management guidelines. If the guidelines were deemed inadequate, NISA directed the Coast Guard to convert them into a mandatory national program. To comply with NISA, the Coast Guard has established both regulations and guidelines to prevent the introduction of ANS.

Under the initial nationwide program which began in 1998, a self-policing program was established where ballast water management (BWM) was initially voluntary for a period of 24-30 months. However, the rate of compliance was found to be inadequate, and vessel operators often failed to submit mandatory ballast water reports to the Coast Guard during this timeframe. The voluntary program has become mandatory under the rules found in 33 CFR 151.

Ballast Water Documents

See the following U.S. Coast Guard link for further information.

U.S. Coast Guard ANS Program

U.S. Coast Guard - Environmental Standards Division

Frequently Asked Questions on the USCG Ballast Water Management web page


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US Forest ServiceNational Park ServiceUS Army Corps of Engineers
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection ServiceUS Geological SurveyBureau of ReclamationNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationUS Maritime AdministrationUS Coast GuardState Department US Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Protection Agency Bureau of Land Management