USCG Ballast Water Management Regulation

The United States Coast Guard adopted Rules for de-ballasting water in US waters

USCG rules:

For many years, the United States has been affected by invasive species. That is why the U.S. Coast Guard now prohibits ships to discharge untreated ballast water in U.S. waters.
Linked to the National Invasive Species Act of 1996, the US Coast Guard (USCG) established in 2004 the rules for controlling the discharge of Living Organisms from ships’ Ballast Water in US waters, through publication of 33 CFR Part 151 and 46 CFR Part 162.

The USCG Rules entered into force the 21 June 2012, and can be downloaded from the Federal Register website:

---->  The rules for deballasting water in US waters  <----

The United States Coast Guard logo


USCG Requirements:

The final Rules prohibit all vessels with ballast tanks to discharge untreated Ballast Water into US waters.
As in the IMO BWM Convention, there is an implementation schedule depending on the ballast water capacity and construction date of the vessel.

  Year of construction Ballast Water Capacity Compliance Date
New Vessels On or after 1st December 2013 All On delivery 
Existing Vessels Before 1st December 2013 < 1500 m3

First scheduled drydocking after 1st January 2016

1500 - 5000 m3 First scheduled drydocking after 1st January 2014
> 5000 m3 First scheduled drydocking after 1st  January 2016

----> BIO-SEA has been certified in accordance with USCG requirements <----

Ships must manage their ballast water by following treatment methods and good practices:

  • Performing Ballast Water Treatment, through installation and operation of an approved Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS),
  • Performing Ballast Water Exchange, in specific areas (200 miles from shore),
  • Avoiding or minimizing ballast water movements in risky or preserved areas,
  • Cleaning regularly ballast tanks to remove sediments, rinsing anchors and chains, and removing fouling from hull and piping,
  • Maintaining an approved Ballast Water Management Plan, as well as the written records of ballast water movements (uptake, transfer, discharge),
  • Submitting vessel and ballast water management information to USCG prior arrival in US harbors.


The latest USCG’s Policy regarding inoperable BWMS:

Last 2/14/18 the USCG released its new Policy letter. It states guidelines regarding vessels bound for a port in the United States having an inoperable ballast water management system.

----> Check out the letter <----


USCG Alternate Management System (AMS)

The USCG provide an acceptance letter for Alternate Management System that complies with its rules for discharging water in US waters