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Maritime Intermezzo


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A Certainty - Change is Constant

Last October 2015 in a 3-0 decision the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 2nd Circuit ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed in its responsibility under the Clean Water Act to protect U.S. waters from aquatic invasive species introduced by ship’s ballast water discharge.

The Court's decision had ramifications for the EPA, USCG and ships trading in waters across the US from the East Coast to the Great Lakes and rivers to the Gulf of Mexico, West Coast, Hawaii and Alaska.

In summary the Court held that the EPA ballast water discharge permit was ineffective and would not protect U.S. waters from future invasions of nonnative species.

Act Global Group reported in September 2016 that the state of California's Land's Commission has proposed amendments to sections 2270 and 2271 in Article 4.5 of Title 2, Division 3, Chapter 1 of the California Code of Regulations. Or what was formerly called the Ballast Water Management Fee and is now described as the Marine Invasive Species Fee.

The proposed amendment to section 2271 would increase the fee paid by vessels arriving at California ports (the Fee) from eight hundred fifty dollars ($850) per qualifying voyage to one thousand dollars ($1,000) per qualifying voyage if the vessel has traveled from outside of California.

Businesses love certainty. And uncertainty is the constant certainty we live with. Increasing certainty or the level of confidence in an outcome or process has in the past increased the likelihood of positive action by ship owners. See SOLAS. To increase the odds of timely action by owners they need the most up-to-date accurate information.

With this September's 2016 Ballast Water Convention Ratification announcement by the Finnish Government at SMM Act Global forecasted the increased likelihood of positive action by ship owners regarding ballast water treatment installations aboard ships. With a window of between six and ten months for safe installation of an approved system many owners are looking at the alternative administrative five year extension. How that plays out with littoral states will be all about competitive advantage, level playing field and the local authority's obligation to protect sustainable practice.

With the United States little is certain and it is easy to default to Churchill's quip "will do the right thing once they've tried everything else." Each State, several Federal agencies and the Courts are all involved in crafting an approach that best fits their legal mandate and their perception of what provides the most achievable level of protection.

A clear business opportunity for the Ports is to provide discharge treatment alternatives as a service. Ballast water pumped to barges or ashore for treatment.

For more information on the Land's Commision's new proposed fee for ships, please follow this link.


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