The Coast Guard has published a Final Rule eliminating the requirement for certain vessels that operate on voyages within a single Captain of the Port zone to submit an Annual Ballast Water Summary Report for 2018.

The Coast Guard views this current reporting requirement as unnecessary in order to analyze and understand ballast water management (BWM) practices. This final rule will reduce the administrative burden on this regulated population of U.S. non-recreational vessels equipped with ballast tanks, the Coast Guard said.

The final rule will take effect on Oct. 1, 2018. Under current regulations, the annual report for calendar year 2018 is due March 31, 2019. This rule will eliminate the annual reporting requirement before the 2018 report is due.

As stated in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Coast Guard reviewed the 2016 annual reports and concluded that they did not contribute to the quality and breadth of BWM data as originally intended because the current annual reporting data fields are too simplistic to capture vessel movements and ballasting operations in the necessary level of detail.

The 2015 final rule established a three-year requirement starting in 2016 for the master, owner, operator, agent, or person in charge of certain vessels with ballast tanks to submit an annual report on their BWM practices. The requirement applies to U.S. non-recreational vessels that operate on voyages exclusively between ports or places within a single COTP zone. The annual reports contain information about the vessel, the number of ballast tanks on board, total ballast water capacity, and a record of ballast water loadings and discharges. The reports are submitted to the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse.

The Coast Guard received 11 public submissions in response to the NPRM, 10 of which were germane to the proposed rule. Of those 10 submissions, seven supported the proposed rule and three were opposed.

For more details, view the Federal Register notice or contact John Morris, program manager, Environmental Standards Division, at 202-372-1402 or [email protected].