2 February 2017
IMO BWM Convention, Honolulu Challenge Tackling Invasive Species
UN Photo/Kibae Park
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New Zealand became the 54th State party to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, which aims to address threats to marine ecosystems from invasive alien species (IAS) transported by ships’ ballast water and sediments.

The Honolulu Challenge proposes 11 measures to address IAS threats, including integrating IAS prevention and control into management of protected areas (PAs) and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), increasing IAS eradications, and enacting biosecurity programs for countries and islands.

January 2017: Governments, UN agencies and other stakeholders are addressing invasive alien species (IAS) and their impacts on biodiversity through the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention), and through the Honolulu Challenge, an initiative meant to increase action on IAS.

Under the BWM Convention, ships will be required to manage their ballast water and sediments, which may contain invasive and/or alien aquatic or marine organisms, plants and microbes, using a ship-specific ballast water management plan, ballast water record book and an International Ballast Water Management Certificate. Left untreated, ballast water can transport and introduce IAS, which can negatively impact local ecosystems, biodiversity and livelihoods. According to the IMO, hundreds of such invasions have taken place.

The BWM Convention will enter into force on 8 September 2017.

The BWM Convention will enter into force on 8 September 2017. New Zealand’s deposit of its instrument of accession brings the total number of States party to the Convention to 54, representing 53.30% of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage. The Convention stipulates that it will enter into force 12 months after ratification by at least 30 States, representing 35% of global merchant shipping tonnage.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim called on the shipping industry to embrace the Convention in his remarks at the Sixth Ballast Water Technology Conference, which took place in London, the UK, from 12-13 January. Lim said the Convention will set clear, robust standards for managing ballast water on ships.

Also on tackling IAS, governments, NGOs and local communities committed to the Honolulu Challenge at the 2016 World Conservation Congress (WCC), which took place in Honolulu, HI, the US, in September 2016. The Honolulu Challenge proposes 11 measures to address IAS threats, including through integrating the prevention and control of IAS into planning and management for protected areas (PAs) and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), increasing the number and scale of IAS eradications, particularly on islands and other priority sites, and increasing efforts to develop and enact biosecurity policies and programs for countries and islands.

Speaking at the launch of the Honolulu Challenge, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias observed “several global targets, including Aichi Biodiversity Targets 9 and 12, are far from being met.” He explained that “invasive species still wreak havoc on numerous threatened species and ecosystems, and have a serious economic impact in all countries. This is particularly relevant to oceanic islands, where urgent action is needed to prevent and eradicate invasive alien species, which pose high risk on endemic and endangered species.”

Parties to the CBD discussed further measures to tackle IAS at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Cancun, Mexico, in December 2016. The Conference of the Parties (COP) adopted a decision on IAS, addressing risks associated with trade, experiences in the use of biological control agents, and decision support tools. In the decision (UNEP/CBD/COP/13/L.23), the COP, inter alia, invites parties and others to: take into account or review, as appropriate, legislation relevant to trade in wildlife to reduce the risk of biological invasion associated with ecommerce, also noting relevant decisions adopted under CITES; join the Ballast Water Convention; and adapt, improve or further develop tools, including decision support tools, for better development and application of biological control programmes against IAS.

Aichi Target 9 states, “By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.” Aichi Target 12 states, “By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.” [IMO News] [BWM Convention Website] [CBD Press Release on Honolulu Challenge] [IUCN Webpage on Honolulu Challenge] [Aichi Biodiversity Targets] [IISD RS Coverage of the WCC] [IISD RS Coverage of the UN Biodiversity Conference]

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