Government of Canada’s Response to the Challenges Posed by New York State’s Ballast Water Requirements
Marine Policy, Transport Canada
November 7, 2011
Table of Contents
- Ballast water is required for the safety and stability of ships.
- Ballast water, once solely a marine safety issue, now intersects three of Transport Canada’s four mandates: an efficient, safe and environmentally sustainable transportation system.
- Ballast water uptake is known to pick up plants and animals. Discharge of unmanaged ballast water in Canadian ports is one way that potentially invasive species can be introduced to Canada.
Canada’s Approach to Ballast Water
- Canada’s effective ballast water management regulations have been shown to markedly reduce the risk of ship-mediated invasions.
- Since 2006, when Canada’s requirements became mandatory, no new species attributable to ballast water has been reported on the Great Lakes.
- A unique Canada-United States (U.S.) joint inspection program prevents discharges of unmanaged foreign ballast water into the Great Lakes. All overseas vessels are inspected before entering the St. Lawrence Seaway.
- Canada has ratified the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004.
- Transport Canada will implement the convention in regulation, requiring international vessels to treat ballast water to a specific international numerical standard to further reduce the risk of invasions.
U.S. Ballast Water Requirements
- While Canada and the U.S. federal government have worked closely together on ballast water, legal developments in the U.S. have produced a patchwork of state ballast water requirements.
- In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency joined the Coast Guard as a regulator of ballast water. Vessels are now subject to the Clean Water Act, which previously only applied to stationary facilities (e.g. factories).
- By law, each state must approve federal Clean Water Act requirements, and may add conditions that apply to facilities (including vessels) in the state.
- This led to a patchwork of state requirements that are incompatible with the International Maritime Organization’s standard and thus Canada’s approach.
- A patchwork approach is ill-suited to vessel regulation on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system.
- 3700 km waterway from the Atlantic Ocean to the head of the Great Lakes.
- Shipping channels cross numerous state and federal boundaries.
- Two locks near the entrance to the Great Lakes are in New York (NY) waters.
NY State Requirements
- NY’s requirements come into force in 2013. Canada believes that they are unachievable:
- NY’s standards are 100-1000 times more stringent than the international one;
- Treatment systems will not be available to meet the state requirements; and
- No testing protocol exists for systems to be tested to the levels required.
- NY’s rules are a particular threat to Canada’s economic interests.
- Enforcement on transiting ships would stop traffic on the Seaway, including domestic ships travelling between Canadian ports. This could affect almost $9 billion in business revenue and up to 55 000 jobs1 in Canada. Of these jobs, approximately 25 000 are directly at risk in marine services and industries directly dependent on ports1.
- Additionally, Canadian shipments to and from the Port of NY and New Jersey would be stopped.
- Together this would disrupt the shipment of approximately 44 million tonnes of cargo (annual average) representing the inputs and outputs of key industries such as grain and steel2.
Government of Canada Objectives
- Short-term: Removal of unilateral restrictions on transiting ships that do not plan to discharge ballast water.
- Long-term: A compatible approach to managing ballast water discharges in our navigable boundary waters that provides certainty, is supported by science, and is practicable and protective to the satisfaction of all regulators. Transport Canada works closely with other federal departments towards achievement of these goals (see Annex A)
Canada’s Key Activities
- Reaching out to explain Canada’s position and seek compatibility
- Federal (U.S.): Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, Transportation, State Department
- States: NY State, others through the Ballast Water Collaborative
- Internationally: International Maritime Organization committees
- Proactive messaging on Canada’s approach
- Communicating our message at bi-national events such as Great Lakes Week
- Contributions to scientific knowledge through research
- Effectiveness of Canada’s regulations. Development of ‘exchange + treatment.’
- Understanding the impacts of NY State’s rule
- Assistance in the development of the Martin Associates study.
- Co-ordination working groups with industry and the provinces
- The International Maritime Organization (IMO) convention has almost received the ratifications necessary to enter into force. Vessels on overseas trips will need to install treatment systems.
- The convention takes force one year after ratification by 30 countries representing 35% of the world’s tonnage. Canada ratified in April 2010. Currently, 30 countries with 26% of tonnage have ratified.
- Two U.S. agencies provided updates on September 27, 2011:
- Coast Guard: a final ballast water management rule is expected shortly.
- Environmental Protection Agency: A draft Vessel General Permit (which will take effect in December 2013) will be released on November 30, 2011.
- NY has signalled a potential softening of its rules. Canada is reviewing and welcomes stakeholder views on their achievability.
- 10 times more stringent than the IMO standard by 2014 (voluntary) with grandfathering until 2026 for ships that comply before 2014.
- 100 times more stringent than the IMO standard by 2016 (mandatory).
- The Government of Canada is closely monitoring developments on this issue and will be guided by its two objectives in determining how to best respond.
- The Government of Canada will continue to:
- Engage a selection of stakeholders, agencies, legislators, state governors and U.S. federal cabinet members in order to seek a timely resolution of this issue;
- Take opportunities to communicate the benefits of the Canadian position;
- Participate in opportunities for public comment when appropriate;
- Seek ways to ensure long-term alignment of Canadian and U.S. ballast water regulations; and
- Work internationally to support a level playing field for Canadian ships through actionable, protective and compatible ballast water treatment requirements.
Annex: Key Departmental Roles
| Transport Canada (Ballast Water Lead)
||Lead on international issue: policy, strategy, coordination, representation
||Lead on technical aspects: regulations, type-approvals, certificates, inspections, enforcement
||Great Lakes ballast water expertise, chairs ballast water working group at International Maritime Organization
|Fisheries and Oceans
||Scientific expertise, research, advice
|Foreign Affairs and International Trade (including Consulates and Embassy)
||Strategic input, management of relationships, local knowledge, advocacy on the ground
||Broader invasive species and environmental efforts
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