Sea-going vessels take up ballast water into so-called ballast water tanks or discharge it to ensure sufficient stability of the ship. With this ballast water, organisms can enter the the tanks during uptake and organisms may be discharged into other marine areas or regions. In these places, they may have no natural enemies and can cause economic damage or disrupt the ecological balance. For this reason, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has adopted the Ballast Water Management Convention. Among other things, it stipulates that ballast water may only be discharged if certain limits or specifications are met.
In Germany, the BSH is responsible for the national implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention and the approval of Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS).