New biofouling regulations take effect in California

The following is the text of a news release from the marine insurer Gard:

(ARENDAL, Norway) — The state of California is known for its enforcement of stringent environmental regulations. In addition to complying with stricter air emission requirements under the California Oceangoing Vessel (OGV) Fuel Regulation, vessels calling at California ports must also comply with regulations for ballast water discharges and biofouling enforced under the state’s Marine Invasive Species Program.

California’s Marine Invasive Species Program (MISP)

The California MISP is designed to prevent, and eventually eliminate, the introduction of non-indigenous species into state waters and is administered by the California State Lands Commission (SLC). The MISP began in 1999 with the passage of California’s Ballast Water Management for Control of Non-indigenous Species Act, which addressed the threat of species being introduced by vessels arriving at California ports. Since that time the California Legislature has expanded the scope of the program to also include ballast water discharge performance standards and the regulation of vessel biofouling. For more information, visit the MISP website.

MISP 2018 reminder

The SLC has jurisdiction over vessels that are 300 gross registered tons and above that carry or are capable of carrying ballast water and in a letter of Dec. 28, 2017, it reminds owners and operators of vessels falling within this description of their management, record-keeping, and reporting obligations under the MISP. The following key requirements are highlighted:

• From Jan. 1, 2018, after a vessel's first regular scheduled dry docking after this date, or upon delivery on or after this date, a vessel-specific biofouling management plan and biofouling record book consistent with the requirements of the IMO Biofouling Guidelines (Res. MEPC.207(62)) must be carried onboard and the vessel’s wetted surfaces managed in accordance with the plan. Specific requirements apply to vessels that undergo an extended residency period, i.e. remain in the same location for 45 days or more.
• A Marine Invasive Species Program annual vessel reporting form must be submitted once annually, at least 24 hours in advance of the first arrival at a California port in each calendar year.
• A ballast water management report must be submitted at least 24 hours prior to arrival at each port call in California. If a vessel’s voyage is less than 24 hours, the report shall be submitted upon departure from the last port of call prior to arrival.

Copies and instructions of the required forms and reports can be found at: Completed forms and reports can be submitted by:

Fax: (562) 499-6444; or
online at

Forms must also be retained onboard the vessel for two years.


When calling at ports in the United States or sailing through U.S. waters, it is always important to bear in mind that state laws may be in force in addition to U.S. federal law and that state laws can be more stringent than those set by the national government and carry different penalties.

Members and clients with vessels trading to California ports should ensure that crews are familiar with all state specific requirements applicable under California’s MISP. For a complete copy of the biofouling management regulations, reference is made to California’s Public Resources Code, Section 71200 et seq. and California Code of Regulations, Title 2, Division 3, Chapter 1, Articles 4.5 through 4.9. For a quick overview of the requirements in force, as well as SLC’s best practices to ensure compliance, please refer to the following information sheets:

California’s Ballast Water Discharge Performance Standards
California’s Management Requirements for Ballast Water and Biofouling
Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements

Additional guidance and recommendations for management of vessels’ biofouling and ballast water can also be found in Gard’s insights: “Biofouling moving up the regulatory agenda” of Oct. 24, 2017 and “U.S. Coast Guard tightens ballast water compliance” of Dec. 18, 2017.

By Professional Mariner Staff