Maryland's Former Ballast Water Management Regulations
Management of ballast water in ships has been a concern at both the federal and state levels. Many invasive species have entered the nation’s waters through ballast water discharges and have caused significant disruptions in the ecosystems affected. Significant economic consequences have also occurred as a result of these introductions.
Through various iterations of the National Invasive Species Act beginning in 1996, shipping agents, owners, or captains have been required to report on their practices to manage ballast water to minimize the threat for the introduction of alien species into the waters of the nation. In some of the early regulations established by the U. S. Coast Guard, ships originating from foreign ports were required to submit a report of their voluntary ballast water management practices. Maryland noted that these early reports did not include information on ships that originated from ports within the United States. These domestic ports had similar potential for serving as a source of alien species as did the ships arriving from foreign ports.
In consideration of this potential, Maryland passed House Bill 1305 in 2000 that required ballast water management reports from all ships over 300 gross tons entering Maryland waters to submit the same form required by the U.S. Coast Guard for ships originating in foreign ports. Regulations specifying the procedures became effective as of July 8, 2002.
The U.S. Coast Guard subsequently modified their regulations and required all ships that crossed U.S. Coast Guard district boundaries to file ballast water management reports. As a consequence, Maryland repealed its law and regulations requiring the submission of ballast water management reports. The law was repealed in 2005 (House Bill 710) and the regulations were likewise repealed on September 16, 2005.
At this time (2008), Maryland does not have any regulatory requirements associated with ballast water management. It should be noted, however, that under Environment Article in various sections, it is required that there be no discharge of pollution.
Congress is currently (2008) considering the assignment of responsibility for discharges of ballast water with the two potential agencies being the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Information regarding ballast water management can be obtained from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC). SERC is the agency responsible for receiving the ballast water management reports required by the U.S. Coast Guard. Related Links
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