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Marine Log

January 16, 2008

Stricter Seaway ballast water management practices

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) has announced stricter ballast water management practices for the 2008 season. An initiative by the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation to obtain regulatory authority to set ballast water management rules will result in all ocean vessels being subjected to a consistent and rigorous inspection process in Montreal, before they enter the Seaway/Great Lakes.

Since 2006, all ocean vessels bound for a Canadian port have been subjected to ballast water inspections, to ensure that water within the ballast tanks adheres to a minimum level of salinity of 30 parts per thousand. With the harmonization of U.S. and Canadian standards, all vessels entering the Seaway, irrespective of destination, will be subjected to the same inspection process.

Beginning with the 2008 navigation season, all ocean vessels, including those with "no ballast on board," will be subjected to an inspection, covering 100 percent of ballast water tanks. This inspection process will ensure that the vessel--while still a minimum of 200 km offshore--flushed all of its tanks with salt water. On subsequent transits during the year, the vessel will again be subjected to a series of inspections, with the objective of ensuring that the vessel's crew is strictly adhering to the salt water flushing practice.

All ships entering the Seaway will have to carry devices (so-called "refractometers") to measure the salinity levels of their tanks during ocean voyages to assure that proper salinity levels are maintained and documented.

Salt water acts as a natural biocide against fresh water organisms found in ballast water. A recent study led by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Michigan found this practice to be a highly effective means to eradicate organisms suspended in ballast water (including zebra mussels). The new harmonized regulations will ensure that all ocean vessels flush their ballast tanks with salt water, well before they enter U.S. or Canadian waters.

Richard Corfe, President and CEO of the SLSMC, stated that "this agreement demonstrates the resolve of the Seaway corporations, the Canadian and U.S. governments, and that of the marine industry to effectively manage ballast water, and apply industry leading best practices to each and every ocean vessel entering our system.

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