The State of Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) is charged with implementing state ballast water management laws under Chapter 77.120 RCW and rules under Chapter 220-150 WAC. These laws and rules apply to all vessels of 300 gross tons or more, United States and foreign, and capable of carrying ballast water into the waters of the state after operating outside of the waters of the state. The information provided below is for general guidance purposes only. Please refer to the specific law or rule for complete requirements.
All covered vessels are required to file a ballast water reporting form (BWRF) (see links on the right sidebar) under WAC 220-150-030 at least 24 hours prior to arrival in state waters, between Oregon and Washington ports on the Columbia River, and before transiting between Washington State ports. This is the same form required by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the same completed BWRF can be sent to both the USCG and Washington State at the same time. Submission of an IMO-approved BWRF is acceptable. Please refer to WAC 220-150-030(4) on specific instructions for vessels intending to file a Safety Exemption claim. File BWRFs directly with Washington State by:
Vessels that do not, under normal operating conditions, discharge ballast water may request a BWRF waiver from the department.
All covered vessels are required to have on board a ballast water management plan and a ballast water log or record book under WAC 220-150-030(5) and (6).
- The management plan must be specific to the vessel and designed to allow those responsible for the plan's implementation to understand and follow the vessel's ballast water management strategy. For vessels with USCG Alternative Management Systems (AMS) installed, we recommend including copies of the IMO type approval letter, any available shore-side or onboard test results, and the USCG acceptance letter in the ballast water management plan.
- The ballast water log or record book must document in detail all ballast water and ballast tank sediment management actions taken over the previous 2 years.
Discharge of ballast water into waters of the state is authorized only if an open sea exchange has been performed under WAC 220-150-040, or if the vessel has otherwise managed its ballast water to meet standards set by the department consistent with applicable state and federal laws. Management options include:
- Not discharge ballast water into Washington State waters.
- Vessels voyaging to Washington State from a Pacific Coast port in Alaska, Canada, Oregon, California, or Central America must conduct an open sea exchange at least 50 nautical miles from any shore and in waters more than 200 meters deep unless using a USCG accepted or approved ballast water treatment system.
- Vessels voyaging to Washington State from a port outside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), must conduct an open sea exchange at least 200 nautical miles from any shore and in waters more than 2,000 meters deep unless using a USCG accepted or approved ballast water treatment system.
- Vessels voyaging to Washington State from a port within the state's common water zone are exempt from having to conduct an open sea exchange if the ballast water and sediment originated solely from a valid exchange prior to entering the common water zone or from uptake within the common water zone.
- Use of only water from a U.S. public water system as defined in USCG 33 CFR 151.2025(2).
WDFW may board and inspect vessels under WAC 220-150-033 without advance notice to provide technical assistance, assess compliance, and enforce the requirements of Washington State ballast water management program laws and regulations. Department inspectors may take samples from a vessel's ballast tanks which are used to help evaluate the risk that vessel poses for introducing non-indigenous species into waters of the state.
Vessels may not remove or discharge sediment or tank fouling organisms into waters of the state under WAC 220-150-070 from spaces carrying ballast water unless that sediment or those organisms are discharged solely in the location from which they originated.
WDFW can issue a Warning, Notice of Correction, or Notice of Penalty of up to $27,500 for each day of a continuing violation under WAC 220-150-080. In general, Warnings and Notices of Correction are issued to first-time non-discharge violations.
WDFW, in coordination with the Washington Department of Ecology, regulates in-water hull cleaning to prevent the introduction of non-indigenous species or release of associated water quality pollutants. Vessel operators must receive approval to conduct in-water hull cleaning, which includes any area of the vessel below and around its waterline such as sea chests and propeller. Learn more about hull cleaning in Washington State waters.
- Ecology approval - contact Randall Marshall (firstname.lastname@example.org, or 360-407-6445) at least 7 days prior to in-water hull cleaning with information on the hull coating, its contents, cleaning method, and date/time.
- WDFW approval - contact Allen Pleus (Allen.Pleus@dfw.wa.gov, or 360-902-2724) at least 7 days prior to in-water hull cleaning with suitable documentation identifying the type of species fouling the areas to be cleaned. Approval is contingent on proof that fouling organisms are only slime and sea grass growth (microfouling organisms). The department will not approve in-water cleaning for hulls fouled with juvenile or adult aquatic species such as barnacles, mussels, and tube worms (macrofouling organisms).
The Ballast Water Work Group (BWWG) was established in 2009 under 220-150-010 WAC to advise the Department on developing, revising, and implementing chapters 77.120 RCW and 220-150 WAC regarding ballast water and biofouling management. The BWWG is comprised of representatives of shipping interests, ports, shellfish growers, fisheries, environmental interests, citizens who have knowledge of the issues, and appropriate governmental representatives including USCG, EPA, and Tribal governments. In addition, the Department communicates and cooperates with federal, reginal state, and internal state agencies to standardize regulations to the extent practical and appropriate, minimize duplication of efforts, and share information. Regional consultation and coordination is provided through the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission through their Pacific Ballast Work Group forum.
Questions or comments regarding the state's Ballast Water Management Program may be directed to:
Questions or comments regarding ballast water management requirements, vessel inspections, and ballast water sampling may be directed to: