National Ballast Survey

In 1999, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Clearinghouse implemented a nationwide program, the National Ballast Survey (NABS), to measure ballast water management and delivery patterns for commercial vessels that arrive to U.S. ports from outside of the EEZ. In 2004, this program was extended to include all commercial vessels bound for a port or place in the U.S. NABS is designed explicitly to create a national database on ballast water that will allow us to:

Data from NABS will be used to measure the rate of voluntary compliance with guidelines for open-ocean ballast exchange. The Clearinghouse is responsible for management and analysis of the extensive data collected under this program. Some of the analysis we conduct includes estimating rates of ballast water exchange, both in terms of the frequency of vessels that undergo exchange and the percentage of ballast water exchanged, for different vessel types (e.g., bulk carriers, oil tankers, container ships, etc.). We also examine differences in space and time for (1) the rate of exchange and (b) the amount of foreign ballast release.

Photo of ship exchanging ballast water NBIC analyzes data from NABS to generate binennial reports on ballast delivery and management patterns in the United States. These reports are reviewed by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Congress when determining federal ballast water policy and legislation. The first report provided a nationwide baseline on the current status of ballast delivery and management patterns, and subsequent biennial reports will measure trends or changes in ballast water management. Although the Clearinghouse will provide analyses and interpretation of patterns for ballast water management, all policy decisions are exclusively the purview of the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Congress.




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