Friday, October 24, 2014

IMO notes ballast water treatment technology falling short

The International Maritime Organization announced it has adopted measures to move along the implementation of an international convention designed to eradicate the global spread of harmful organisms in ships’ ballast water, recognizing that the current ballast water treatment technology and guidelines are falling short.

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (the BWM Convention), addresses the problem of aquatic organisms and pathogens being released into non-native environments after being transported around the world in ships’ ballast water.

The convention requires the treatment and management of ballast water in order to kill off such microorganisms or species.

The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee adopted several resolutions last week concerning approval of BWM systems and port state control inspections. The testing for approval of BWM systems needs to be reviewed, the committee decided, so that any systems that are tested and approved will meet BWM treaty standards. 

The committee agreed that ship owners who have already installed type-approved ballast water management systems prior to the application of the revised guidelines (G8) should not be penalized and that port states shouldn’t apply criminal sanctions or detain the ship.

The MEPC also agreed a plan and terms of reference for a proposed study on implementation of the ballast water performance standard described in regulation D-2 of the BWM Convention. This specifies the water quality for discharge, related to specified maximum concentrations of viable organisms.

The threshold for bringing the IMO Ballast Water Convention into force is drawing near, according to the statement. The BWM Convention will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 governments that collectively represent 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage.

During the MEPC meeting several countries announced their ratification. Less than 3 percent of global tonnage is now needed to reach the tonnage threshold that will start a retrofitting process in all existing applicable ships over a 5-year period.

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