An important international treaty which helps prevent the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species by ships now covers more than 90% of shipping worldwide, following China’s extension of the treaty to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Ships flagged to Hong Kong, China – the fourth largest flag Administration in the world by shipping tonnage – will now be required to apply the requirements of the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWM).
Why is this important..??
The BWM Convention aims to protect marine ecosystems by requiring ships to manage their ballast water so that harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location. This helps prevent the spread of invasive species – as well as potentially harmful pathogens.
The BWM Convention entered into force in 2017 and now has 83 Parties, representing 90.98% of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping, up from 81.83% previously. Since the entry into force requirements for the treaty was met in September 2016, there have been some 30 ratifications, with the percentage of world merchant shipping tonnage covered increasing considerably, from 35.14% to 90.98%.
China notified IMO on 13 May that the Government of the People’s Republic of China has extended the BWM Convention to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, with effect from 13 August 2020.
Ballast Water Management Convention (BWM)
The Ballast Water Management Convention or BWM Convention (full name International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004) is a treaty adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in order to help prevent the spread of potentially harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in ships’ ballast water.
From 8 September 2017, ships must manage their ballast water so that aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location. This will help prevent the spread of invasive species as well as potentially harmful pathogens.
The convention applies to ships registered under contracting Parties to the BWM Convention, which take up and use ballast water during international voyages.
From the date of entry into force, ships in international traffic are required to manage their ballast water and sediments to a certain standard, according to a ship-specific ballast water management plan.
As part of this treaty, ships have to carry:
- A ballast water management plan – specific to each ship, the ballast water management plan includes a detailed description of the actions to be taken to implement the ballast water management requirements and supplemental ballast water management practices;
- A ballast water record book – to record when ballast water is taken on board; circulated or treated for ballast water management purposes; and discharged into the sea. It should also record when ballast water is discharged to a reception facility and accidental or other exceptional discharges of ballast water; and
- An International Ballast Water Management Certificate (ships of 400 gt and above) – this is issued by or on behalf of the Administration (flag State) and certifies that the ship carries out ballast water management in accordance with the BWM Convention and specifies which standard the ship is complying with, as well as the date of expiry of the Certificate.
There are two ballast water management standards (D-1 and D-2).
- The D-1 standard requires ships to exchange their ballast water in open seas, away from coastal areas. 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.
- The D-2 standard specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, including specified indicator microbes harmful to human health.
From the date of entry into force of the BWM Convention, all ships must conform to at least the D-1 standard; and all new ships, to the D-2 standard. Eventually, all ships will have to conform to the D-2 standard. For most ships, this will involve installing special equipment to treat the ballast water.
The main difference between D-1 and D-2 is that D-1 relates to ballast water exchange, while D-2 specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, including specified indicator microbes harmful to human health.
- D-1 standard The D-1 standard requires ships to conduct an exchange of ballast water such that at least 95% of water by volume is exchanged far away from the coast.
- D-2 standard The D-2 standard specifies that ships can only discharge ballast water that meets the following criteria:
- less than 10 viable organisms per cubic metre which are greater than or equal to 50 micrometres in minimum dimension;
- less than 10 viable organisms per millilitre which are between 10 micrometres and 50 micrometres in minimum dimension;
- less than 1 colony-forming unit (cfu) per 100 mililitres of Toxicogenic Vibrio cholerae;
- less than 250 cfu per 100 millilitres of Escherichia coli; and
- less than 100 cfu per 100 milliliters of Intestinal Enterococci.
In terms of its implementation, Ships may be subject to Port State Control in any port or offshore terminal of a Party to the BWM Convention. This inspection may include verifying that there is onboard a valid Certificate and an approved ballast water management plan; inspection of the ballast water record book; and/or sampling of the ship’s ballast water, carried out in accordance with the Guidelines for ballast water sampling (G2).
Source : IMO