Managing ballast water
- Environmental Protection
- Marine Pollution Sources and Regulations
- The Canadian Ballast Water Program
- Phasing out of Single-Hulled Tankers
- Reporting of Pollution
- Civil Liability Insurance for Marine Pollution
- Contact Us
From Transport Canada
Every vessel entering waters under Canada’s jurisdiction is responsible for managing its ballast water properly. Discharging ballast water properly prevents non-native bacteria, plants and animal species from being released into Canada’s waters.
On this page
- Ballast water
- National and international ballast water rules
- Canadian Ballast Water Program
- Related links
Ballast water is critical for the safe operation of vessels, adding weight so a vessel rides at just the right depth of water and remains even and stable as it floats. Ballasting is essential if a vessel is carrying a heavy load in one hold and a lighter load in another, or when the vessel is empty or if it faces rough seas.
When vessels need ballast, they pump water into the ballast water tanks, which adds weight to key parts of the vessel. They pump it out and discharge it into receiving waters when they no longer need it or if they need to lighten their weight.
Ballast water may contain bacteria and other microbes, micro-algae and aquatic plant and animal species from the source waters. When ballast water is released, it also releases these organisms into the receiving waters. Vessels travelling in Canadian waters carry thousands of tonnes of ballast water annually, making Canada vulnerable to the introduction of non-native species from discharged ballast water.
National and international ballast water rules
To prevent ecological/environmental problems resulting from the discharge of ballast water, rules have been drafted by Transport Canada and also by the International Maritime Organization (IMO):
- Under the Canada Shipping Act, the Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations were created to address the growing problem of non-native aquatic species being discharged in ships’ ballast water
- For more information, see A Guide to Canada’s Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations (TP 13617)
- In 2004, the IMO adopted The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments
- However, the Convention is not yet in force: it will 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 adopt ballast water management standards
Canadian Ballast Water Program
For 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, which outlines:
- ballast water management
- ship-mediated introductions
- alien invasive species
- public education and outreach