The Dirty Truth About Ballast Water Exchange

Posted by Nicole Schill on May 27, 2015 9:49:29 AM

The inadvertent transfer of harmful aquatic organisms in a vessel’s ballast water has been determined to have caused a significant adverse impact to many of the world’s coastal regions. Ballast water discharge typically contains a variety of biological materials, including plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria that can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to aquatic ecosystems.

The international maritime community, with the support of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has developed several new regulations to help prevent the introduction of unwanted organisms. However, competent maritime authorities have a very limited capability to monitor vessel’s compliance to this rule. Without Satellite AIS data, authorities are often left with little to no information to link a probable culprit to the incident.

We've put together an infographic that illustrates the impacts of ballast water discharge and why it's so important to monitor vessels' compliance to ballast water exchange in the designated areas for marine environment protection.

Alien species have been known to hitchhike a ride in a vessel's ballast water causing havoc to their new destination. With the amount of ballast water exchanged in various places over a year, these invasive creatures can hop on just about anywhere and anytime. Check it out!


With archived Satellite AIS data from exactEarth, you receive the historic data you need to view a vessel’s track over a length of time which can then be overlaid on a vessel’s recorded track to verify its position and movements.  Plotting each point with a date and timestamp, our Satellite AIS tracking ensures accuracy to pinpoint vessels at the time of discrepancy.  

Here's an example of our data disproving a log book entry for ballast water exchange outside Nova Scotia as a vessel provided a false record to Transport Canada. The black line represented the vessel's reported track but our data in red showed a different route:


For more info on how Satellite AIS can play a role in validating declarations made for ballast water, check out our use case sheet.

exactAIS Archive™ data from exactEarth dates back to July 2010 providing you with the most complete record of historical vessel movements available. With this customisable data you can ensure that ballast water exchange is taking place in the designated areas to prevent the spread of non-native species and bacteria.

Start building your custom exactAIS Archive data quote today!

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Topics: Ballast Water Exchange, ocean environment, marine environment

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