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Ballast Water

Under the Canada Shipping Act, Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations are being created to address the growing problem of aquatic species that may be carried in ships' ballast water, including bacteria and other microbes, micro-algae, and various life stages of aquatic plant and animal species. Ships travelling in Canadian waters carry thousands of tonnes of ballast water annually, making Canada vulnerable to the introduction of alien species from the ballast water discharged.

Ballast is any solid or liquid that is brought on board a vessel to increase the draft, change the trim, regulate the stability or to maintain stress loads within acceptable limits. Today, water has become the ballast of choice, replacing rocks and sand that had been used prior to the 1980s.  

In 2004, the International Maritime Organization adopted The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments. However the Convention will only enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 states, representing 35 per cent of the world shipping tonnage.  The Convention will require all ships to implement a ballast water and sediments management plan, carry a ballast water record book and implement ballast water management procedures to a given standard.

Transport Canada has been active in the development of both the Convention and the guidelines and is examining ratification of the Convention within the 2008 regulatory program.

For more details on the issues surrounding ballast water and how they are being addressed by Canada, visit the Canadian Ballast Water Program section of this website.