Under certain low risk conditions the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) Regulation A-4 enables a party to grant exemptions on ballast water management for ships. Based on the overall IMO framework (IMO Guidelines G7) the 21 Baltic and North-East Atlantic coastal states and EU have developed and agreed in 2013 on a detailed joint harmonised procedure (JHP) to defining “low risk” routes, as well as other necessary steps in granting exemptions under regulation A-4 of the BWMC. A dedicated intergovernmental task group, the HELCOM-OSPAR TG BALLAST, gathering competent administrations and industry from the Baltic Sea and North Sea countries was established by HELCOM and OSPAR in 2012 to oversee the implementation and development of the JHP.

With the entering into force of the BWMC in September 2017 ship owners will apply for exemptions. In COMPLETE project, the JHP risk assessment tool will be optimised taking into account the input from the HELCOM-OSPAR TG BALLAST. The improved tool will contribute to reducing uncertainty and costs of exemption applicants as well as increase the information available on harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens not only in the Baltic Sea but also in the North-East Atlantic.