Changes to California’s ballast water regulations

Standard Club has advised members that California’s Marine Invasive Species Act has been amended by an Assembly Bill which will come into effect on January 1st 2020.

Delay to performance standards implementation

California hopes to introduce stricter interim ballast water discharge performance standards, which were to be implemented on January 1st 2020. However, due to a lack of available ballast water treatment technologies the implementation of these interim and final standards has been delayed to January 1st 2030 and January 1st 2040 respectively.

Extension of Pacific Coast Region

Under the Act, ships of over 300 gt whose last port of call was inside of the PCR and whose ballast water has been sourced from the PCR, would be required to conduct ballast water exchange at least 50nm from land before discharging in Californian waters. The new amendments extend the boundary of the PCR to include the ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. This new boundary will also include the Gulf of California.

Defining ‘land’

The definition of ‘land’ from which the 50nm will be measured has been extended to include any offshore rock outcrops or islands. Standard Club said that ship operators should consider carefully the surrounding geology when planning their ballast water operations.

Sampling for research purposes

The amendments will extend the authority of the California State Lands Commission. They will now be permitted to board ships and sample ballast water for research purposes.


Ships may be exempt from these management methods in certain situations; for example, if the master believes that practise of these methods might threaten the safety of the ship and/or her crew. The master will be required to document his reasons for non-compliance, and to submit this information to the Commission at the earliest possible time.