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The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) will enter into force on 8 September 2017.

The Convention's entry into force is expected to minimize the spread of invasive aquatic species (IAS) via ships' ballast water, thereby enhancing protection of the marine environment, biodiversity conservation and standardized approaches for industry.

IMO8 September 2016: The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) will enter into force on 8 September 2017. The Convention’s entry into force is expected to minimize the spread of invasive aquatic species (IAS) via ships’ ballast water, thereby enhancing protection of the marine environment, biodiversity conservation and standardized approaches for industry.

Ships routinely use ballast water for stability and structural integrity, but this water can contain thousands of algae, aquatic microbes and other species, which are then carried by ships and released into ecosystems where they are not native species. Hundreds of IAS have been released from untreated ballast water, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The BWM Convention requires all ships in international trade to treat their ballast water and sediments to remove or avoid the uptake or discharge or aquatic organisms and pathogens. All ships must carry a ballast water record book and an International Ballast Water Management Certificate. Ships are also expected to phase in a ballast water performance standard.

“The spread of invasive species has been recognized as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and the economic well-being of the planet,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, who described the BWM Convention’s entry into force as “a truly significant milestone for the health of our planet.” He explained that the BWM Convention “will also provide a global, level playing field for international shipping, providing clear and robust standards for the management of ballast water on ships.”

Finland became the 52nd Party to the BWM Convention, bringing the combined tonnage of contracting States to the BWM Convention to 35.14%. The Convention stipulates it will enter into force 12 months after ratification by a minimum of 30 States, representing 35% of world merchant shipping tonnage. The IMO adopted the BWM Convention in 2004. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) – UN Development Programme – (UNDP) – IMO GloBallast Partnerships Project has assisted developing countries in building their capacity to implement the Convention and reduce the risk of IAS. Most recently, GloBallast has conducted workshops to prepare States for the BWM Convention’s entry into force.

The BWM Convention will also contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG Target 15.8 aims to, “by 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species.” [IMO Press Release] [GEF Press Release] [BWM Convention Website] [GloBallast Programme Website]

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