BallastWISE is an automatic system for detection of living micro-organisms in water samples. The system can detect individual organisms by means of an intelligent algorithm that can detect fluorescence or movements of even the smallest particles (algae or animals) against a relatively complex background of stationary particles.


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, in order to prevent the spread of invasive species between the various maritime areas, which is expected to enter into force during 2016.

According to the Convention ballastwater must be cleaned prior to discharge.

IMO ballast water performance standard (Regulation D-2) for micro- and zooplankton:

  • less than 10 live organisms per cubic metre > 50 μm (zooplankton)
  • less than 10 live organisms per ml between 10-50 μm (micro plankton)

According to the IMO guide lines port authorities have the right at any time to verify that ships manage ballast water in accordance with the rules. Sampling should be a simple and quick process which is carried out during discharge of ballast water.

BallastWISE can potentially be used by port authorities to test the ballast water of ships in port. A negative outcome may involve costs and responsibilities. An analysis consists of a set of log files, which also will be imported into a local database, as well as a number of video files.


The tracks are generated with the BallastWISE system. The blue lines are tracks from individual organisms.