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Environmental boost

Wmn
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) entered into force on September 8.

Adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2004, the measure for environmental protection that aims to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species in ships' ballast water requires vessels to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments.

"This is a landmark step towards halting the spread of invasive aquatic species, which can cause havoc for local ecosystems, affect biodiversity and lead to substantial economic loss," Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General, commented.

"The requirements which enter into force mean that we are now addressing what has been recognised as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and the economic wellbeing of the planet.

"Invasive species are causing enormous damage to biodiversity and the valuable natural riches of the earth upon which we depend.

"Invasive species also cause direct and indirect health effects and the damage to the environment is often irreversible.

"The entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention will not only minimise the risk of invasions by alien species via ballast water, it will also provide a global level playing field for international shipping, providing clear and robust standards for the management of ballast water on ships."

Under the rules of the convention, all ships engaged in international trade are required to manage their ballast water so as to avoid the introduction of alien species into coastal areas, including exchanging their ballast water or treating it using an approved ballast water management system. Initially, there will be two different standards, corresponding to these two options. The D-1 standard requires ships to exchange their ballast water in open seas, away from coastal waters.

Ideally, this means at least 200 nautical miles from land and in water at least 200 metres deep.

By doing this, fewer organisms will survive and so ships will be less likely to introduce potentially harmful species when they release the ballast water.

D-2 is a performance standard which specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, including specified indicator microbes harmful to human health.








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