Ballast water management systems

The MEA-nl ballast water management expertise centre


How effective is ballast water management system (BWMS) in practice? What is the most suitable BWMS for a specific type of ship and sailing route? Will a treatment and management system meet the current and future legal requirements world-wide?

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Requirements for management of ballast water

The Ballast Water Management Code of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contain specific discharge criteria for the required ballast water treatment and management systems. These provisions prescribe the allowed number of organisms in treated ballast water, before discharge. Consequently, testing and controlling the effectiveness of ballast water treatment and management systems is of great importance, in terms of both legal compliance and marine environmental protection.

Ballast water legislation and policy >

Our ballast water management expertise

At MEA-nl we offer our extensive knowledge in the field of (marine) biology, chemistry and shipping to all organizations involved in ballast water management.

Research & Development

MEA-nl is your partner in the overall R&D process in relation to ballast water treatment and management. Besides testing such technologies in practice, we are continuously advising many organizations to improve these technologies and systems. When doing so, MEA-nl acts as an independent agency with a long term multi-expertise in many areas. Performance of ballast water management systems must be guaranteed at all times under all circumstances. We operate from our own unique research facility and our laboratory in the Netherlands, but we are able to perform many of our activities at any given location around the world.

Verification tests

MEA-nl carries out verification tests on behalf of different national authorities. The regulatory frameworks for this are the type approval procedures of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention and the US Code of Federal Regulations. Thanks to our approach, we can carry out all land based verification tests under realistic and natural conditions with both marine, fresh and brackish water at our test facility.

We also carry out numerous shipboard verification tests around the world. When doing such tests, we are able to provide advise about the most optimal on-board test configuration and set-up. At these verification tests, we co-operate closely with a world-wide network of certified laboratories.

Performance monitoring

Currently, there is a gap of knowledge about the performance of ballast water treatment and management systems on the long term and under different circumstances. To improve this specific field of expertise, MEA-nl tests the performance of these systems for ship owners, manufactures and developers that are involved in ballast water management. We are currently working on the realization of an independent (stand-alone) operating monitoring system.

Compliance control

On behalf of a number of national and port authorities, MEA-nl carries out measurements on water discharges, including ballast water. We advise these authorities about the content and application of enforcement standards. As an independent organization with specialized expertise, we also assist ship owners by providing advise and re-appraisal (counterchecks) when problems and/or disputes occur.


Under certain conditions, ship owners can obtain an exemption for having an ballast water management system on-board. MEA-nl can offer an advisory role in the required risk analysis that is required in such cases.

Why MEA-nl?

  • The MEA-nl team has both experience and expertise about ballast water treatment, since 2002
  • MEA-nl carries out research under natural and realistic test conditions
  • We can test with all water qualities: marine, freshwater and brackish
  • We can carry out both land-based and ship-board tests
  • And… The MEA-nl team has multi-expertise about both water, marine biology and the shipping industry

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