California – Ballast Water *Update*

The State of California has adopted new legislation on ballast water management, taking effect on 1 July 2017.

The California State Lands Commission (SLC) has adopted new rules on ballast water management and these will take effect in the State of California on 1 July 2017. These rules codify enforcement of the Californian Marine Invasive Species Act (MISA).

When calling at ports in the United States or sailing through US waters, it’s always important to remember that in addition to the federal USCG rules, State laws may be in force. These State regulations may be more stringent than those set by the national government and carry different penalties.

Furthermore, the California MISA does not provide for an exemption for vessel deviation, whereas federal rules may allow this. The SLC clarifies this position in their letter of 2014 which can be read here.

Compliance with MISA is no different and US law firm Keesal, Young & Logan have issued an alert advising of the forthcoming rules.

MISA applies to vessels over 300GT that are capable of carrying ballast water. The ballast water management requirements address:

  1. Vessels arriving in California Waters from a port or place outside the Pacific Coast Region.
  2. Vessels arriving in California Waters from a port or place within the Pacific Coast Region, with ballast water from the Pacific Coast Region.

Penalties for MISA Violations

MISA authorizes the SLC to pursue civil penalties which should not exceed US$27,500 per violation. The violations can be categorised as:

  • Civil penalties for improper ballast water exchanges
  • Civil penalties for improper ballast water recordkeeping and reporting

It is also important to note that the falsification of records and reports is punishable by up to one year in jail.

The California State Lands Commission confirmed in their letter of July 2014 that they accept the use of either a USCG type approved ballast water treatment system or a USCG accepted alternative management systems (AMS) as an alternative to their stated ballast water exchange requirements. Reporting requirements still stand, however. The letter can be read here.

For further information read the alert from Keesal, Young & Logan or read our Signals article.