May 12, 2021 | Circular No. 11277


Further to CL 11269, please find below guidance on Canada’s new Ballast Water Management Regulations, which are planned for publication between now and June 15 and will be effective on publication.

International Context:

As noted in previous communications to members, these regulations primarily formalize implementation of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention and IMO schedule in Canadian waters, which require vessels to:

  • Install a ballast water treatment system (BWTS) by the date specified in the IMO BW Convention (i.e., between September 2019 and September 2024) and carry a Ballast Water Management Certificate.
  • Have on board and implement a vessel-specific ballast water management plan.
  • Meet the ballast water performance/treatment standards contained in the IMO BW Convention.
  • Perform ballast water exchange until the vessel reaches its IMO compliance date for treatment, at which time, ballast water would need to be managed through the vessel’s BWTS.


Canadian Context:

We advise members to be prepared to meet the following requirements, which Canada is implementing in addition to the above:

  • Conduct salt water flushing of all empty ballast tanks with open ocean water, in accordance with the ballast water exchange standard, in order to reduce the risk posed by residual ballast water and sediments.
  • For vessels bound to a Canadian freshwater port: conduct both a ballast water exchange (or flushing of empty ballast tanks) on the high seas AND ballast water treatment (for vessels required to have a ballast water treatment system installed) until at least September 2024. Although Transport Canada has not yet finalized the geographical description of the covered areas, under the proposed regulations, the proposed regulations extend this requirement to:
  • On the West Coast:
    • Port Kitimat, Port Stewart, and ports on the Fraser River
  • On the East Coast:
    • Ports on the Saguenay River.
    • Ports on the St. Lawrence River, upstream of Ile d’Orléans (from the Port of Quebec to Port of Montreal).
    • Ports in the Great Lakes Basin (the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, as far east as the lower exit of St. Lambert lock, Montreal).

Furthermore, given the challenges to treat ballast water taken from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River (murky, cold fresh water), Canada would deem treated ballast water taken from this region to be in compliance with the discharge standards, provided that the vessel’s ballast water treatment system is installed, operated and maintained properly. This would apply only to treatment systems installed before September 2024 and the department would reassess the need for the “deemed compliant approach”, based on the future performance of ballast water treatment systems in fresh waters.

The revised regulations would still provide “alternative ballast water exchange areas” in Canadian waters for a non-transoceanic voyage on the east and west coasts of Canada (i.e., when a vessel is not traveling in waters more than 200 nm from shore and 2000 in meter deph) or in the event that mid-ocean ballast water exchange cannot be performed due to safety or stability issues. These alternative ballast water exchange areas could only be used for sequential exchange.



We are working to ensure that Transport Canada provides as clear instructions as possible regarding the protocols that Canada will approve for the additional requirements for vessels destined for freshwater ports. At this point TC has indicated that such instructions will not be published until later this year.

The full text of the proposed regulations can be accessed here along with a TC draft guideline document.  We will revert to members once the final text of the regulations has been published.


New voluntary guidance on in-water cleaning of vessels will be coming out this spring. The guidelines will:

  • Recommend that in-water cleaning is ideally done only when microfouling (slime and algae) is present;
  • Recognize that some vessels may need macrofouling (e.g., barnacles and mussels) cleaned; and
  • Provide criteria for cleaning WITH capture and for cleaning WITHOUT capture.

We will revert to members once the guidance has been published and the 60-day consultation and comment period has begun.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the undersigned should you have any questions or need any additional information.



Miako Ushio
Environmental and Regulatory Affairs Manager