California’s ports are now subject to new biofouling regulations

California's ports are now subject to new biofouling regulations
California’s ports are now subject to new biofouling regulations

Gard, a leading P&I insurer, has reminded shipowners and other involved parties that they should take care to comply with the requirements of California’s Marine Invasive Species Program (MISP). These regulations extend beyond IMO and US Coast Guard requirements for ballast water to address the risks posed by hull biofouling, which can also carry invasives.

According to the new regulations, after each newbuild’s delivery or after each existing vessel’s next regularly scheduled dry docking, the operator must implement a vessel-specific Biofouling Management Plan and Biofouling Record Book consistent with the best practices found in the IMO Biofouling Guidelines. These two documents must be carried on board and the vessel’s wetted surfaces must be managed in accordance with the plan. Specific requirements apply to vessels that lay idle at berth or at anchor for 45 days or more.

In addition, a Marine Invasive Species Program Annual Vessel Reporting Form must be submitted once annually, at least 24 hours in advance of the first arrival at a California port in each calendar year. A Ballast Water Management Report must be submitted at least 24 hours prior to arrival at each port call in California, detailing all ballast water discharges by tank number, volume and date. If a vessel’s voyage is less than 24 hours, the report must be submitted upon departure from the last port of call. These reports must be maintained on board for two years.

Researchers and regulators are increasingly concerned that hull biofouling will need to be addressed for the control of marine invasive species. At a presentation last year, IMO technical officer Dr. Theofanis Karayannis suggested that hull biofouling could be just as serious a problem as ballast water. IMO has adopted stringent standards for ballast water treatment, but unlike California, the international body does not require measures for the management of biofouling.

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