General Information Regarding
Ballast Water Management
Marine Safety Information Bulletins
These releases have been issued for public information and notification purposes only:
National Ballast Information Clearinghouse
The National Ballast Information Clearinghouse (NBIC) is a joint program of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) and the United States Coast Guard that collects, analyzes, and interprets data on the ballast water management practices of commercial ships that operate in the waters of the United States.
The principal aims of NBIC are to quantify the amounts and origins of ballast water discharged in US coastal systems and to determine the degree to which such water has undergone open-ocean exchange or alternative treatments designed to reduce the likelihood of ballast-mediated invasions by exotic species. NBIC was established in 1997 at the direction of the National Invasive Species Act of 1996 (NISA). Ballast water data are available for download from an online database.
NOTE: The NBIC has no authority over vessel ballast operations. The electronic submission of ballast water reporting forms to the NBIC may result in the submitter receiving an electronic confirmation of a successful reporting form submission, however, this notice of receipt is not an approval to conduct ballasting operations nor required to conduct ballasting operations. All vessel masters, owners, operators, agents or persons in charge are reminded that they are required to conduct ballast water operations in accordance with the applicable sections of 33 CFR 151 regardless of whether they have received confirmation of a successful reporting form submission.
EPA/Coast Guard Studies and other Reports
Ballast Water Treatment, U.S. Great Lakes Bulk Carrier Engineering and Cost Study (CG-D-12-13), November 2013: Volume I and Volume II
The intent of this study is to investigate the design and ballast water management (BWM) practices of US flag vessels operating solely within the Great Lakes; assess the potential for these vessels to install and operate ballast water management systems to kill or remove living organisms; and develop generalized, installation design and cost estimations, including a land-based alternative to shipboard ballast water treatment. “Ballast Water Treatment, U.S. Great Lakes Bulk Carrier Engineering and Cost Study – Volume I: Present Conditions” identifies ballast water practices as related to trading patterns, including an analysis of ballast discharge information with respect to vessel size and type, using information from calendar year 2010. The study selects five vessels that best represent the “full range” of U. S. flag “Laker” trade (including voyage patterns and vessel types). In “Ballast Water Treatment - U.S. Great Lakes Bulk Carrier Engineering and Cost Study – Volume II: Analysis of On-Board Treatment Methods, Alternative Ballast Water Management Practices, and Implementation Costs,” we examine the costs to outfit and operate four of the five vessels with installed ballast water treatment systems, and also investigate cost associated with treating ballast water ashore. Importantly, this study does not assess the ability of any ballast water management system or practice to kill or remove organisms in ships’ ballast water.
Assessing the Relationship Between Propagule Pressure and Invasion Risk in Ballast Water (2011)
The first study, led by the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council (NAS), helps to derive environmentally protective numeric ballast water discharge limits in the next Vessel General Permit and other programs. As part of this study, researchers prepared a background paper. For more information, select this link to the NAS committee.
Efficacy of Ballast Water Treatment Systems (2011)
The second study, led by EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB), provides advice on technologies and systems to minimize the impacts of invasive species in vessel ballast water discharge. A "draft final" report is available on its website. To support this effort, agency staff prepared a background paper. For more information, select links to the EPA SAB committee and Vessel General Permit.
Great Lakes Shipping, Trade, and Aquatic Invasive Species: Special Report 291,
National Academy of Sciences, 2008.
Stemming the Tide: Controlling Introductions of Nonindigenous Species by Ships Ballast Water,
National Academy of Science
Generic Protocol for the Verification of Ballast Water Treatment Technology (September 2010),