Ballast water management doubts go unheeded


The global shipping industry has voiced its continued concern about serious implementation problems associated with the IMO Ballast Water Management (BMW) Convention.

The convention requires shipowners to invest in a number of treatment technologies to reduce the spread of unwanted marine micro-organisms that stow away within the ships ballast.

However, the global shipping industry, represented by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO, Intercargo, Intertanko, World Shipping Council (WSC), CLIA and IPTA lack confidence that this equipment actually works, let alone that it complies with the standards set by governments.

The industry brought these doubts forward via a written submission at last week’s IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).

The submission addresses concerns about the lack of robustness in the current approval process allocated for new treatment equipment that can cost billions of dollars to implement.

They further criticised the current criteria used for sampling ballast water during port-state control inspections, and the need for ‘grandfathering’ pre-existing approved equipment that has already been fitted.

Despite these concerns, which were shared by a number of flag states, the IMO has decided to go ahead with the proposed convention, with some investigation to take place at a later date.

Rather than agreeing to halt and investigate, the IMO has decided to look into conducting a study of the problems raised, which will take at least three years to complete.

Nevertheless, the shipping industry maintains the need for legal changes to be made to the current convention, and the need for a ballast regime suited for global execution.

The body therefore plans to make another full submission outlining its concerns and possible ways forward at the next IMO MEPC meeting in October of this year.

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