Operating & Environmental Standards

Analysis of the effect of MSIB 07-19: Ballast water BMPs to reduce the likelihood of transporting pathogens that may spread Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

The Coast Guard’s Office of Operating and Environmental Standards (CG-OES) has published an analysis of the effect of MSIB 07-19 on the discharge of unmanaged ballast water in U.S. waters in Southeast Florida and the Caribbean.  

CG-OES published MSIB 07-19 on September 6, 2019, informing vessel representatives of the outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) in Florida and throughout the greater Caribbean region. MSIB 07-19 reminded vessel representatives of the required ballast water management practices, and recommended additional voluntary best management practices that could be employed to reduce the potential for transport of organisms in ballast water. Vessels that have not yet reached their compliance dates for meeting the ballast water discharge standard must conduct ballast water exchange beyond 200 nautical miles of shore prior to discharging ballast water in U.S. waters. However, the regulations provide exemptions from this requirement for circumstances where conducting exchange would endanger the vessel, and for circumstances where a vessel’s route does not take it beyond 200 nm for a long enough duration to complete an exchange in accordance with the regulations.  In the latter cases, although the specific pathogens causing SCTLD are not known, and the transmission of SCTLD in ballast water has not yet been demonstrated, the MSIB recommended vessel masters conduct BWE beyond 50 nm of shore, to reduce the likelihood that SCTLD might be transported between locations in unmanaged ballast water.  

For the 12 months following the release of MSIB 07-19, CG-OES, the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse (NBIC), and the EPA Office of Oceans, Wetlands and Watersheds analyzed the differences in the number and volumes of unmanaged ballast water discharged in U.S. waters in the region, compared to the average and ranges for the same months during the six years prior to release. While there was a decrease in both the number and volumes of unmanaged discharges following release of the MSIB, it was not possible to exclusively attribute it to vessels following the voluntary practices recommended in the MSIB. Two other factors likely contributed to the decrease in the discharge of unmanaged ballast water during the year following release of the MSIB: the steady increase in the use of onboard ballast water management systems to treat ballast water prior to discharge, and the general decrease in vessel arrivals and ballast water discharges due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on shipping.

The report of the MSIB 07-19 follow-up analysis is available on the NBIC web page (https:\\www.nbic.si.edu) under “Selected Publications”.

If you have questions, please contact the Chief of the Environmental Standards Division at environmental_standards@uscg.mil

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official publications, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These publications remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.