Ballast Water

Background and History
On October 12, 2007, new rules were adopted to manage ballast water discharge from vessels operating in Hawaiian waters. The rules are intended to minimize introduction and spread of non-indigenous aquatic organisms into waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands.

The rules require vessels that carry ballast water to: 

  • Follow the state administrative rules for ballast water (pdf file, 528 KB);
  • Have a ballast water management plan specifically for that vessel;
  • File a ballast water reporting form with DLNR no later than 24 hours prior to arrival.

On November 24, 2015, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) issued a final rule amending the Coast Guard’s ballast water management reporting and recordkeeping requirements. This includes the new Ballast Water Management Report (BWMR) Web App and PDF form versions. The final rule went into effect February 22, 2016. However, on February 24, 2016, USCG announced a transition period until May 1, 2016, for government and industry to adjust and adopt the new form. Old forms may continue to be submitted past the transition period, and the data from the form will be entered into the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse (NBIC) Ballast Water Information System. New reporting forms are also available on the NBIC website.

More detailed information about DLNR’s ballast water management can be downloaded in pdf form at this link.

Ballast Water Reporting
For ballast water management reporting to the State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), please note the following:

Effective immediately, and until further notice, DLNR will accept either the old USCG “Ballast Water Reporting Form” (PDF) or the new “Ballast Water Management Report” (PDF version only, not .xml).  Either form may be used to satisfy Hawaii’s ballast water reporting requirements under Hawaii Administrative Rule (HAR) §13-76-19.

To meet Hawaii reporting requirements, the forms must be:

  1. Submitted as an email attachment (PDF) to dlnr.ar.ballast.report@hawaii.gov or via fax to (808) 587-0115; and
  2. Submitted no later than 24 hours prior to vessel arrival into state marine waters per Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) §13-76-19(a)(2). Submitting the report to the USCG via Web App or as a PDF at the same time would be in compliance with their reporting requirement as well. Vessels and agents choosing to use the new NBIC Web App version must also complete a separate PDF version with the same information and submit it to DLNR as noted above.
  3. Should there be a change in any of the information submitted in accordance with ballast water management requirements, submit an amended form to the department before the vessel departs state marine waters.  HAR §13-76-19(3). This applies to both the old and new ballast water management forms.  If you are sending an amended report, please put “AMENDED” in the email subject line.

All other Hawaii ballast water management requirements under HAR Chapter 76, Subchapter 2, remain in effect.

DLNR will assist vessel agents and operators in complying with the new USCG rule to the extent possible once we understand and become experienced with the final system. Please contact Julie “Jules” Kuo at julie.c.kuo@hawaii.gov or (808) 348-7025 for further questions.

Questions regarding the new BWMR and NBIC submission process should be directed to the NBIC: nbic@ballastreport.org or (443) 482-2339.

Submission of the ballast report to the department does not relieve the master of responsibility to report to the USCG.

About ballast water
Ballast water is water taken up or released by a ship to provide stability. It is usually taken into ballast tanks when cargo is being offloaded, and discharged when cargo is being loaded. Ballast water quantities are adjusted on the open ocean to compensate for weather, fuel consumption, and for the overall safety of the ship and crew. When ships take in water for ballast in port, they also take in whatever organisms are present in the water. These organisms are then transported, and are potentially introduced into the waters of the ports along the vessels’ routes as ballast tanks are emptied each time cargo is loaded. The problem is that the ability of modern ships to cover long distances in a short amount of time provides a means for non-native marine species, including algae, invertebrates, and pathogens, to arrive in Hawai‘i via ballast water.

It is well documented that ballast water is a major pathway for aquatic species introductions around the world. Once aquatic invasive species are introduced it is both difficult and expensive to control. Complete eradication is probably impossible and the cost associated with it is significant. The best way to address these introductions is prevention. The recently adopted rules will help minimize introduction of non-native marine species to Hawai‘i, thereby helping to protect our fragile native ecosystem.

Introduced non-native species can have dramatic economic and environmental consequences. Ballast water has been studied extensively world-wide, and numerous invasive species are attributed to this mode of introduction. Examples include zebra mussels in the Great Lakes and their negative impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries and damages to city water supplies, dinoflagellates causing red tides and fish kills in Australia and elsewhere, cholera bacteria causing epidemics in South America, and green crabs destroying mollusk and crustacean populations in areas it has invaded.

Snowflake coral (Carijoa riisei) is believed to have been transported to Hawai‘i as larvae in ship ballast water or on the bottom of a ship as hull fouling. It was first discovered in Hawai‘i in 1972 at Pearl Harbor, and has since spread to all the Main Hawaiian Islands. It grows well on artificial surfaces such as metal, concrete, plastic, rope and many other surfaces. It is a highly successful invasive species and threatens Hawai‘i’s biodiversity by monopolizing food and space resources and by displacing native species. It has been observed growing on and smothering black coral colonies at an astonishing rate. It has a planktonic larval stage that facilitates dispersal via ocean currents, giving it the ability to spread over a wide area. It appears to have no significant predators in Hawai‘i.

In 2000, the State’s Department of Land and Natural Resources was designated the lead agency for prevention and eradication of alien aquatic organism introductions via ballast water and hull fouling. New rules were developed with extensive discussions and consultation from the Alien Aquatic Organism Task Force (AAOTF). The AAOTF includes members representing Federal and State agencies, private shipping and boating industries, environmental organizations, and the scientific community. A public hearing for the proposed rules was held on June 28, 2007 and the Board of Land and Natural Resources approval them on August10, 2007.