News 19 Oct, 2011

Brazil - Amazon and Pará Rivers Ballast Water Regulations

Since October 2005 it has been mandatory for all vessels planning to discharge ballast water in Brazilian ports and terminals to conduct a ballast water exchange whilst on passage. There is also an additional requirement for vessels proceeding to ports or terminals in the Amazon and Pará Rivers to conduct a second ballast water exchange at prescribed locations in order to reduce the salinity of the ballast water. Certain vessels are exempt, including warships, vessels with sealed ballast tanks not subject to discharge and ships whose design characteristics do not allow ballast exchange.

However, the Club has been advised by Brazmar Marine Services Ltda than an increasing number of eligible vessels are failing to conduct the second ballast water exchange. Although such vessels may be treated leniently if proceeding to an area where the salinity of the water is already high, those calling at ports further up river where the water is less saline may be dealt with more rigorously.

The Brazilian regulations require that a ballast water exchange takes place at least 200 nautical miles from the coast, in a water depth of at least 200 metres. If this is not practical, then as far from the coast as possible, but not less than 50 nautical miles, in a water depth of at least 200 metres. Vessels must also be in possession of a Ballast Water Management Plan approved by either their Flag State Administration or a Recognised Organisation.

Vessels proceeding to ports or terminals in the Amazon River must conduct a second ballast water exchange between the 20 metre depth contour and Macapá. If a vessel has a ballast water capacity of less than 5,000 cbm, the second ballast water exchange must take place at the mouth of the river Jari. Vessels proceeding to the River Pará must conduct the second ballast water exchange between at least 60 nautical miles from Salinópolis and the lighthouse of Ponta do Chapéu Virado (Mosqueiro Island).

The ballast water reporting form specified in the regulations (Normam 20, Annex B) must be completed and sent by either the Master or the vessel’s local agent to the Harbour Master or their representative at least twenty four hours prior to the estimated time of arrival. A copy of the completed report form must also be retained onboard.

Full details of the regulatory requirements can be found in IMO BWM.2/Circ.1. Although the text of the Normam 20 regulations is only available in Portuguese, the ballast water reporting form in Annex B of this document is in English.

Members are advised to ensure that their vessels carry out a second ballast water exchange at one of the prescribed locations when proceeding to ports or terminals in the Amazon or Pará Rivers. Eligible vessels found to have breached the regulations may be required to retain the ballast water on board and may be fined between R$ 5,000 and R$ 50 million (approximately US$ 2,900 to US$ 29 million). However, if a vessel is unable to conduct a ballast water exchange for safety reasons, the Brazilian Maritime Authority may permit a small quantity of ballast water to be discharged at an unauthorised location provided they have been notified in advance and have granted their consent.

Members requiring further information should contact the Loss Prevention department.