Ballast Water

Ballast Water

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations and is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security, and environmental performance of international shipping. The taking on and expulsion of ballast water is used in all steel-hulled shipping vessels and has now been recognized by the EPA and the Marine Environment Protection Committee as a growing hazard. Ballast water poses serious ecological, economic, and health problems due to the multitude of marine species carried in ships’ ballast water which can survive to establish a reproductive population in the host environment and become invasive. These bio-invasions have increased, due to expanded trade and traffic volume over the last few decades, and have had devastating effects on various marine ecosystems around the world. Domestically, the United States Coast Guard is charged with the enforcement of laws designed to protect the environment from such foreign bio invaders, and it has issued various regulations regarding the same. Congress has passed the National Invasive Species Act (1996) and the Clean Water Act (1999) to combat these problems, as well.

Monitoring of the microbial composition of ballast water is now easy and reliable with the use of the Biotrack system. Onboard monitoring of the number of coliforms, Enterococci, and Vibrio cholera in ballast water before and after commercial disinfection treatment during the ship’s voyage and prior to discharge on arrival, makes a rational ballast water treatment monitoring possible.
In port, bio-monitoring using the Biotrack during inspections of sea-going vessels, provides necessary information for responsible port management and rapid intervention.

Utilized onboard a ship, Biotrack would be in a position to monitor all microorganisms relevant for regulatory needs or demands beginning with ballast intake at the port of departure until ballast discharge at the port of arrival, allowing effective ballast water management. The Biotrack provides continuous insight into the microbiological status of ballast water while in transit and allows command to adequately and rationally manage ballast water. This allows for prompt reporting prior to arrival to port authorities, affording ship command and ship owners reduced or no “waiting time” or potentially reducing the number of overall shipping days. Biotrack’s wireless data transfer capability could significantly reduce ship “wait times” to dock, a potential saving for owners while promoting improved port throughput of shipping cargos.

At port, Biotrack monitors ballast water samples quickly and efficiently, thus allowing port authorities and in-country Coast Guards to both keep automated records of compliance and more adequately provide planning information to ship-owners and port operators. By using the Biotrack, port authorities can effectively investigate and observe ballast water of incoming vessels prior to discharge. This allows more effective port management and promotes minimal environmental impact.

GloballastPaulGloballast 2016, Montreal Canada, Paul R. McCright, PhD


  • Reliable microbiological monitoring
  • Proper planning of ballast water treatment
  • Rational treatment of ballast water
  • No delays upon arrival
  • More days of effectively en route travel
  • Automated record keeping and approval processing
  • Drinking water monitoring


  • Complete analyses report per ballast tank
  • Fast insight in ballast water quality
  • Minimal environmental impact for port
  • Less port movements
  • Less quay time
  • More effective use of port inspectors and Coast Guard personnel