Civil penalty proceedings have been initiated by the US Coast Guard (USCG) for an alleged infringement of ballast water discharge standards by the 31,728 dwt bulk carrier Vega Mars. It is operated by Vega Reederei of Germany and registered in Liberia.
In a statement to BWTT the flag state’s administrator, LISCR, said: “A Liberia flag state auditor attended the vessel and helped the master and owner resolve the reported deficiencies.” Asked whether LISCR was offering any assistance in defending the USCG’s case against the ship, the spokesman said that LISCR is still assessing the case in co-operation with both the owner and the USCG. "Further action will be taken as may be deemed appropriate." BWTT has also contacted the vessel’s owner for its response to the USCG’s action.
In a statement issued on 13 February, the USCG said it started the proceeding on 2 February following a port state control inspection in which “investigators found that, around 29 January while moored in Tacoma, Washington, ballast water was discharged from the vessel without the use of a Coast Guard-approved ballast water management system or other approved means, a violation of the National Invasive Species Act.”
The ship faces a maximum penalty of US$38,175.
“The Coast Guard is committed to the protection of the marine environment through strong and robust administration and oversight of ballast water management practices,” said Captain Joe Raymond, commanding officer, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, in the statement. He went on: “These types of enforcement actions help prevent future incidents and reflect the importance of protecting the sensitive waters of the Puget Sound.”
He said that this action was “in line with the recent approval of four [in fact, three – BWTT] different ballast water management systems.”
The USCG statement reminded vessel masters, owners and operators that it is their responsibility “to ensure the proper discharge of ballast water into any water within US jurisdiction, or to ensure proper waivers or extensions are processed through the Coast Guard’s Office of Operating and Environmental Standards.”