Ballast water is water carried in ships’ ballast tanks to improve stability, balance and trim. It is taken up or discharged when cargo is unloaded or loaded, or when a ship needs extra stability in foul weather.
When ships take on ballast water, plants and animals that live in the ocean are also picked up. Discharging this ballast water releases these organisms into new areas where they can become marine pests.
Commonwealth takes over of domestic ballast water regulation on 8 September 2017
The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments ("the Ballast Water Management Convention"), introduces global regulations to control the transfer of potentially invasive species. It will enter into force both internationally and in Australia, from 8 September 2017. As a result, EPA Victoria will no longer be regulating domestic ballast water management in Victoria from this date. This means vessels visiting a Victorian port from 8 September 2017 will no longer need to provide ballast water documentation to EPA Victoria.
The Commonwealth’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will regulate both international and domestic ballast water management in Victoria.
Historic ballast water management in Victoria
Prior to the introduction of the Ballast Water Management Convention, on 8 September 2017, ships' ballast water was managed under the Victorian domestic ballast water management system. The system was designed to protect Victoria’s marine environment by minimising the risk of introduction of marine pests. These domestic ballast water management arrangements were introduced by the Victorian Government in 2004. They are outlined in the Waste Management Policy (Ships’ Ballast Water), which forms part of Victoria’s legal system.