Photo of ship discharging ballast water
Forms and Regulations
BWRF Waiver Request Form
MS Word Format
Ballast Water Boarding Checklist Form
Ballast Water Management Report Form
Vessel Plankton Sample Form
Ballast Water Program Brochure
Washington State "Common Waters" definition, map and description
RCW 77.120: Ballast Water Management Statute
WAC 220-650 Ballast Water Management Rules


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 220-650 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.

The U.S Coast Guard (USCG) ballast water management reporting and recordkeeping final rule issued on November 24, 2015, became effective as of February 22, 2016. Vessels must now use the current USCG ballast water management reporting form and follow all instructions provided at to be compliant with Washington state ballast water reporting requirements.


Reporting Requirements

All covered vessels are required to file a ballast water management report form (BWMR) (see links on the right sidebar) under WAC 220-650-030 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 BWMR can be sent to both the USCG and Washington State at the same time. Submission of an IMO-approved BWMR is acceptable. Please refer to WAC 220-650-030(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 BWMR waiver from the department.

Recordkeeping Requirements

All covered vessels are required to have on board a ballast water management plan and a ballast water log or record book under WAC 220-650-030(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.

Ballast Water Management Requirements

Discharge of ballast water into waters of the state is authorized only if the vessel has managed its ballast water to meet the following federal and state requirements:

  • No ballast water discharge.
  • Treatment of ballast water with a ballast water management system (BWMS) that has been Type Approved by the USCG, or is a USCG accepted Alternative Management System (AMS) when arriving at a Washington State port from outside the US or Canadian EEZ, and when arriving at a Washington State port from a different USCG Captain of the Port (COTP) zone, including between Washington State ports within the Columbia River and Puget Sound COTP zones. Note that the USCG requires a vessel to have a valid extension letter on board if a BWMS has not been installed, even if they are using an AMS.

If a vessel intends to discharge ballast water and does not have a fully operational BWMS or AMS system installed or used, the vessel must manage their ballast water under one of the following applicable options:

  • 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 (reference WAC 220-650-070(3)).
  • 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 (reference WAC 220-650-070(3)).
  • 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 (reference WAC 220-650-070(4)).
  • Use of only water from a U.S. public water system as defined in USCG 33 CFR 151.2025(2).

Vessel Inspections

WDFW may board and inspect vessels under WAC 220-650-040 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.

Ballast Tank Sediment Management

Vessels may not remove or discharge sediment or tank fouling organisms into waters of the state under WAC 220-650-110 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 220-650-120. In general, Warnings and Notices of Correction are issued to first-time non-discharge violations.

Biofouling/Hull Fouling Management

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.

In general:

  • Ecology approval - contact Chris Dudenhoeffer (, 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 (, 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 WAC 220-650-010 to advise the Department on developing, revising, and implementing chapters 77.120 RCW and 220-650 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, regional 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.


WDFW Contact Information

Questions or comments regarding the state's Ballast Water Management Program may be directed to:

Allen Pleus
AIS Coordinator
(360) 902-2724
Amanda Newsom
Ballast Water Specialist
(360) 902-2753

Questions or comments regarding ballast water management requirements, vessel inspections, and ballast water sampling may be directed to:

Keith Strieck
North Sound Inspector
(360) 918-3869

Gary Gertsen
Columbia River & South Sound Inspector
(360) 890-5388

West Coast Ballast Water Links