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Friday, May 22, 2020 

US Government body the Federal Maritime Commission has voted to accept a petition filed by the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA) that alleges the ballast water regulations, as proposed by the Government of Canada, will discriminate against US flag vessel operators.

In accepting the LCA petition, the Commission voted to initiate an investigation of the specific allegations set forth in their petition, to gather information and to solicit public comments. Based on that investigation, the Commission will consider all options, statutory remedies, and sanctions that are available under Section 19(1)(b) of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920, as amended (Section 19), codified in 46 U.S.C. ch 421.

The investigation will examine the detriment and harm to the US flag fleet resulting from the proposed regulations.

The Commission has long been concerned about the proposed Canadian ballast water regulations and the effect it will have on the US flag Laker fleet. These concerns have been expressed to Transport Canada in meetings and phone conferences for several years.

By accepting the LCA petition and initiating the investigation, the Commission is not making a current determination that the proposed Transport Canada regulations are discriminatory; however, if the LCA petition allegations are substantiated through the Commission investigation, then the Commission will be in position to act expeditiously.

Transport Canada (TC) has proposed to apply ballast water regulations to domestic and foreign vessels operating in the Great Lakes Basin (i.e. upstream of St. Lambert lock), from September 2024. This would include vessels that operate exclusively in waters under Canadian jurisdiction as well as on the high seas. TC also proposes to require vessels travelling to Canadian freshwater ports from outside the exclusive economic zone to continue performing ballast water exchange until that date. TC recommends that vessels loading or discharging ballast water in Canada carry a document issued by, or on behalf of, their Administration establishing that ballast water planning and management onboard the ship is equivalent to that required by the IMO Ballast Water Convention.

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