NBIC Data Use Statement and Disclaimer

Data Release Policy

As part of its mission to provide society with knowledge to meet environmental challenges, the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse (a partnership of the U.S. Coast Guard and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center) makes information on ballast water activities of commercial ships operating in the U.S. available to the public. We ask all users to abide by the following conditions and policies.

Data Use Agreement

As a condition for access to the data provided by the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse, I agree to the following:

   1. I agree not to sell or distribute data provided by the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse.

   2. If data from the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse are used as part of any publication or public presentation, I will acknowledge the NBIC with the following citation:

National Ballast Information Clearinghouse 2018. NBIC Online Database. Electronic publication, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center & United States Coast Guard. Available from http://invasions.si.edu/nbic/search.html; searched <date>.


The National Ballast Information Clearinghouse, U.S. Coast Guard, and Smithsonian Institution claim no guarantees for data accuracy or completeness, expressed or implied. All responsibilities for the use of these data will be solely those of the user.

The master, owner, operator or person-in-charge of any vessel equipped with ballast water tanks, that is bound for ports or places in U.S. waters, must ensure complete and accurate ballast water management reports (BWM reports) are submitted in accordance with 33 CFR 151.2041. However, completeness of reporting by vessel operators cannot be guaranteed by the NBIC. Therefore, data are released "as is" for public use and should be treated as preliminary, provisional data and used with appropriate caution.

The NBIC uses rigorous quality control and quality assurance measures when processing ballast water management data, thereby ensuring high fidelity between what is reported to NBIC and the content of the NBIC database. The QA/QC protocol includes direct communications with BWM form submitters, including specific requests for re-submission when necessary. When a corrected BWM form is received by the NBIC, its content replaces that which was originally submitted and entered into the NBIC database previously.

In no event shall the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse, U.S. Coast Guard, or Smithsonian Institution, its sponsors, or their respective employees, agents, suppliers, or contractors be liable for any damages of any kind or character, including without limitation any compensatory, incidental, direct, indirect, special, punitive, or consequential damages, loss of use, loss of data, loss of income or profit, loss of or damage to property, claims of third parties, or other losses of any kind or character, even if the Smithsonian Institution and its sponsors have been advised of the possibility of such damages or losses, arising out of or in connection with the use of these data.


Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) - In general, waters within 200 nautical miles of U.S. (or Canadian) land masses .

Coastal ballast water - water from areas within 200 nautical miles from shore.

Ballast Water Discharge into ports or places of the US, by source:

    1. Overseas Discharge - all coastal water that was carried through waters outside the US and Canadian EEZs.

    2. Coastwise Discharge - coastal water that was not carried through waters outside the US and Canadian EEZs.


    1. Overseas - voyage to a US port or place immediately after passage outside the U.S. or Canadian EEZs (see Table and Maps).

    2. Coastwise - voyage to a US port or place without passage outside the U.S. or Canadian EEZs (see Table and Maps).

Ballast Water Management Methods:

    1. Ballast Water Exchange (BWE): mid-ocean exchange of ballast water.

       a. E/R - In empty/refill exchange, the ballasted tank is emptied by pumps until the pumps lose suction, and then refilled via gravitation and pumping of ocean water. 100% of the ballast water must be emptied from the tank before refilling to complete an empty/refill exchange.

       b. FT - In the flow-through method of exchange, mid-ocean water is pumped into a full tank or hold from below while the existing coastal water is forced out an opening at the top. A volume of water three times the ballast tank capacity (300%) must be pumped out to complete a flow-through exchange, as mandated by the US Coast Guard.

    2. Alternative (ALT): methods of managing ballast water other than BWE.

       a. Ballast Water Treatment: treatment of ballast water under the USCG STEP Program, an accepted Alternative Management System (AMS), or a USCG Type Approved Ballast Water Management System.

       b. Discharge to an onshore treatment facility, or another vessel, for the purposes of treatment pursuant to 33 CFR 151.2025(a)(5).

       c. US Public Water System source: use only water from a US Public Water System pursuant to 33 CFR 151.2025(a)(2).

    3. Retain Ballast Water: vessels that have ballast water on board but do not discharge any ballast water within the waters of the United States.


I understand the disclaimer and I agree to the data use conditions:


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