California Ballast Water Management Program

2 February 2000 No.99-025
Effective 1 January 2000, the State of California implemented a mandatory ballast water management program for virtually all vessels arriving in its ports from outside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (U.S. EEZ). The following is a quick guide concerning the new requirements.

1. Applicability
The California Ballast Water Management Program (CBWMP) applies to almost all vessels equipped with ballast tanks. However, the following vessels are exempt from the CBWMP:
(1) Vessels not equipped with ballast tanks.
(2) Vessels that do not have onboard ballast waters from outside the U.S. Pacific West Coast EEZ.
(3) Passenger vessels equipped with a functioning treatment system designed to kill nonindigenous species in the ballast water.
(4) Vessels that discharge ballast water or sediments only at the location where the ballast water or sediments originated.
(5) Vessels in innocent passage through California waters.
(6) Vessels for which the master determines that the ballast water exchange would threaten the safety of the vessel, its crew, or its passengers because of adverse weather, vessel designed limitations, equipment failure, or other extraordinary conditions.

2. Requirements
Vessels not exempt from the CBWMP must undertake the following actions:
(1)Ballast Water Management
The master must employ at least one of the following practices for ballast water carried into California waters from areas outside the U.S. EEZ:
1 Exchange ballast water while outside the EEZ, from an area not less than 200 nautical miles from any shore and in waters more than 2,000 meters deep before entering California waters.
"Exchange" means to replace the water in a ballast tank using either of the following methods:
a. "Flow through exchange"- flush out ballast water by pumping in mid-ocean water at the bottom of the tank and continuously overflowing the tank from the top until three full volumes of water have been changed to minimize the number of original organisms remaining in the tank.
b. "Empty/refill exchange" - pump out, until the tank is empty or as close to 100% as the master determines is safe to do so, the ballast water taken on in ports, or estuarine or territorial waters, then refill the tank with mid-ocean waters.
2 Retain the ballast water on board the vessel.
3 Under extraordinary conditions, conduct a ballast water exchange within an area agreed to by the California State Lands Commission (CSLC) at the time of the request.
(2)"Good Housekeeping" Practices
Masters of all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks that operate in waters of the state of California must do all of the following in order to minimize the uptake and release of nonindigenous species:
1 Avoid the discharge or uptake of ballast water in areas within or that may directly affect marine sanctuaries, marine preserves, marine parks, or coral reefs.
2 Minimize or avoid uptake of ballast water in all of the following areas and circumstances:
a. Areas known to have infestations or populations of harmful organisms and pathogens.
b. Areas near a sewage outfall.
c. Areas near dredging operations.
d. Areas where tidal flushing is known to be poor or times when a tidal stream is known to be more turbid.
e. In darkness when bottom-dwelling organisms may rise up in the water column.
f. Where propellers may stir up the sediment.
3 Ballast Tank Cleaning
a. Clean the ballast tanks regularly to remove sediments.
b. Clean the ballast tanks in mid-ocean waters or under controlled arrangements in port or at drydock.
c. Dispose of sediments in accordance with local, state, and federal law.
4 Discharge only the minimum amount of ballast water essential for vessel operations while in California waters.
5 Rinse anchors and anchor chains when retrieving the anchor to remove organisms and sediments at their place of origin.
6 Remove fouling organisms from hull, piping, and tanks on a regular basis and dispose of any removed substances in accordance with local, state, and federal law.
7 Maintain a ballast water management plan that was prepared specifically for the vessel. This plan should follow the applicable IMO Guidelines.
8 Train the master and crew on the application of ballast water and sediment management and treatment procedures.
(3)Ballast Water Report
The Master of a vessel equipped with ballast tanks and entering California waters after operating outside the U.S. West Coast EEZ (CA, OR, or WA) must, before the vessel departs from the first port of call in California, provide to the CSLC a copy of the Ballast Water Report being submitted for the vessel to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). The Report may be submitted in either electronic or written form.
(Fax number: 562-499-6444, e-mail address: If the submitted information changes, an amended Report must be submitted. Written records addressing the information contained in the Report must be obtained on the vessel. A signed copy of the Report must be maintained on the vessel for at least two years.

3. Fee
The fee for the BWMP is currently $600 per vessel per voyage. The California Board of Equalization is sending invoices to shipping agents based on vessel port calls.

4. Administrative Civil Penalties for violation
(1) Failure to report - a penalty not to exceed $500 per violation. Each day of a continuing violation constitutes a separate violation.
(2) Knowingly and with intent to deceive, falsifying ballast water reports - a penalty not to exceed $5,000 per violation. Each day of a continuing violation constitutes a separate violation.
(3) Intentionally or negligently failing to comply - a penalty not to exceed $5,000 per violation. Each day of a continuing violation constitutes a separate violation.

5. Requirements, Reporting Form
The details of the requirements are available on the site of California State Lands Commission at ( The reporting form is also available on the site at ( If you have any inquiries concerning how to fill in the form or about any contents of the program, please ask your local agents.