On November 27, 2018 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Authorization Act, including the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), by unanimous consent. The Bill will now proceed to President Trump for signature.
Once signed into law, VIDA will harmonize the USCG’s policy approach on reproductive methods in determining ballast water treatment system efficacy with that of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The VIDA Bill includes legislative language that amends the USCG regulations to allow for the use of reproductive methods for the testing and approval of ballast water management systems. The legislative language amends the USCG regulations to allow for the use of reproductive methods by explicitly expanding the definition of “living” to ensure that organisms that can’t reproduce (nonviable) are not considered to be living.
The Bill requires the USCG to develop a draft policy letter detailing reproductive methods based on best available science within 180 days, and indicates the USCG must consider Type Approval testing methodologies that utilize organism grow-out and Most Probable Number (MPN) analysis to determine the number of viable organisms in ballast water that are capable of reproduction.