The Round Table (RT) of International Shipping Organisations has expressed concern over the likely implementation of an international convention to regulate ships’ ballast water without a realistic implementation schedule that recognises the timetable for US type-approved Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS) to be available in sufficient quantities.
The RT comprises BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO and believes that the resulting dilemma would force the international shipping industry to spend millions of dollars on BWMS that may not achieve US type-approval and therefore will need to be replaced in a short period of time.
The RT emphasises that it supports the need for international requirements to protect local ecosystems from the impact of invasive species carried in ships’ ballast water.
The Ballast Water Management Convention is developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and is therefore the best instrument to achieve this objective. The RT expects the convention will be ratified very shortly and enter into force as early as 2016.
Shipowners that have not already done so will be required to spend between US$1 million and $5 million to install a BWMS on each of their ships in accordance with the schedule. It is estimated that there are 50,000 ships that require a BWMS-fitting over a 5-year period.
The RT has urged the US Coast Guard to approve as many ballast water management systems in as quickly a time as possible and provide a pragmatic schedule for the installation of such equipment.
There are currently 54 BWMS approved under the IMO regime, but only 17 manufacturers have indicated an intent to submit their system for USCG approval testing.