Wisconsin to harmonize ballast rule with IMO
Taking the recommendations of a year-long feasibility study, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources proposed on Tuesday that its Vessel General Permit be brought in line with international ballast water discharge rules.
The requirements become effective in 2012 for new ocean-going vessels and in 2014 for existing ocean-going vessels.
Ballast water is pumped into hulls for ship stability. This water may contain damaging aquatic pests, which could be released while vessels are in port.
In February 2010, Wisconsin began regulating ballast water discharges of ocean-going commercial vessels in an effort to minimize the transfer of aquatic invasive species. These regulations require vessel operators to install environmental technology to clean or treat ballast water to achieve a specific water quality standard. Wisconsin's standard was 100 times more stringent than that set by the International Maritime Organization.
The shipping industry had objected to Wisconsin's water quality standard, insisting that it was unachievable with current technology. As a consequence, the state launched a feasibility study to be concluded at the end of 2010.
Wisconsin's study was praised by the region's industry.
'I commend the Department of Natural Resources for undertaking this study and proposing a change of regulations to reflect sound science,' said Jason Serck, president of the Wisconsin Commercial Port Association, in a statement. 'The proposed change will save Wisconsin jobs by harmonizing Wisconsin's regulations with those of neighboring states.'