Ballast Water/Biofouling


With the advent of modern shipping, ecosystems once separated by natural barriers are connected by the ships and boats that move between them. The breakdown of this barrier has lead to the introduction and spread of aquatic organisms into new locations. In the absence of predators and other controls, these organisms have the potential to become invasive. Invasive species cause a range of negative impacts to the environment, economy, human health and social/cultural values.

In Hawaii, there is a constant flow of vessel traffic with ships transporting goods to and between the islands, as well as recreational boaters enjoying our aquatic resources. Unfortunately, the majority of the non-indigenous marine and estuarine species in Hawaii have also arrived by ships or boats. A number of these have become invasive. The most common pathway for their introduction has been as vessel biofouling, followed by ballast water. Biofouling is the attachment of organisms to the wetted portions of boats and ships, while ballast water is water taken up or released by a ship to provide stability.

To manage the invasive species risks associated with ballast water and biofouling, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) was given authority by the Legislature to establish an Alien Aquatic Organism Task Force (AAOTF). AAOTF has representatives from the maritime industry, boating groups, state and federal governments, conservation groups and the scientific community. Click here for more information on AAOTF.

Together with the AAOTF, DLNR developed administrative rules to manage ballast water.  In 2007, these rules were introduced and they require arriving vessels to manage their ballast water before discharging. Click here for more information on Hawaii’s Ballast Water rules.

DLNR has begun working with AAOTF on a strategy to manage the invasive species risks associated with biofouling of ships and boats. Click here for more information on Hawaii’s progress on biofouling management.