New California Regulations Governing Ballast Water

Ballast water

Published: 18 January 2000


Effective 1 January 2000 California established a mandatory Ballast Water Control program that introduces a variety of new requirements on vessels calling on port statewide including a $600.00 per voyage fee.

The mandatory fee of $600.00 must be paid each time a vessel calls on a California port after operating outside the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone ("EEZ"). The fee will fund a program aimed at eliminating invasive foreign marine species from state waters.

In addition to the fee, the ballast water regulations require a mandatory mid-ocean exchange of ballast water for all ships entering California ports after operating outside of the EEZ. In short, vessels must completely replace their ballast water with mid-ocean water taken from more than 200 nautical miles from land and more than 2,000 meters deep before entering a California port. Certain exceptions exist, such as if heavy seas make ballasting unsafe, or if the vessel is equipped with a ballast water treatment system or retains the ballast water on board.

Each vessel must also submit a U.S. Coast Guard Ballast Water Report Form to the California State Lands Commission. Forms may be submitted electronically to the CSLC at The reporting information must be kept on board the vessel for at least two years. Note that submission of the form to the CSLC does not relieve the vessel of the responsibility to report information to the U.S. Coast Guard's separate ballast water control scheme.

The regulations also require that each vessel develop a Ballast Water Management Plan that specifies the procedures the vessel uses to comply with the law. In addition to the Management Plan, the regulations require training for the vessel master, person-in-charge and crew regarding the proper handling of ballast water.

The CSLC is charged with enforcement of the new regulations, which include civil penalties of up to $5,000 for each violation.

The regulations were issued under the California State Lands Commission emergency rule-making authority. Permanent regulations are expected to come into effect later this year. The regulations and reporting form are available at the CSLC's web site:

For further information regarding these regulations you may contact Skuld directly or , Mr. Gregory W. Poulos of Lillick & Charles LLP,


We have received the following information from our correspondent in San Francisco, Mr. Gregory W. Poulos of Lillick & Charles LLP. Thank you!