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Ballast Water Management Convention

   
 
 

International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships´ Ballast Water and Sediments

 

Ballast Water

Ballast water is water that is taken on board a ship in order to regulate the trim, the heeling, the draught, the stability and the stresses in the ship. The process of taking this water on board (known as "ballasting") regularly involves the uptake of organisms, e.g. small fish, benthos and plankton organisms, and even human pathogens. These are released again when the ballast water is discharged at a destination (a process known as "deballasting") in order to, for example, load cargo. The ever faster marine traffic has increased the probability that these organisms will survive the passage in the ballast water tanks. As a result of this process, a large number of alien species have already become established in the North and Baltic Sea. In the Baltic Sea, the shipworm (teredo navalis) has damaged coastal defense structures by eroding the indigenous timber used in the construction. The costs for damage caused by ballast water introduced invasive alien species, however, can rarely be calculated. For the purpose of partially closing this gap, in 2004 the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) conducted a survey with support of the International Marine Organisation (IMO), intending to determine concrete economic effects in the areas of fishing, aquaculture and coastal defence structures for marine traffic, tourism and other goods caused by the introduction of invasive alien species. The survey revealed that the shipworm, for example, had caused economic damage amounting to an estimated 25 million Euros since 1993. In the same period, the Chinese mitten crab was found to have been responsible for causing an estimated 73.5 to 85 million Euros worth of economic damage.

Ballast Water Management Convention

For quite a long time this aspect of marine environmental protection lacked adequate international regulations, although as early as in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the contracting countries had committed themselves in Article 196 to adopt "all measures necessary to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment resulting from … the intentional or accidental introduction of species, alien or new, to a particular part of the marine environment, which may cause significant and harmful changes thereto". Notwithstanding this, it was only after invasive alien species had been caused considerable economic damage in the American and Canadian Great Lakes, as well as in Australia that the IMO started its work on regulations designed to minimize the spread of alien species via ballast water of ships in 1990. However, as the recommended measures did not achieve the planned results, calls for a legally binding framework increased. 

On the occasion of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, where the international importance of the problem was recognised, the issue gained also increasing attention within the IMO. Starting in 1999, the IMO working group on ballast water specifically addressed the preparation of a standalone convention for the control and management of ballast water and sediments fromships.

Finally, in February 2004 the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) was adopted in the framework of an IMO Diplomatic Conference.

This Convention requires a ballast water management which largely refrains from discharging unmanaged ballast water. Instead, a standard set in the Convention (Regulation D-2 of the BWM Convention) must be achieved. This can, for example, be done by treating the ballast water on board by using appropriate ballast water management systems before discharging the ballast water into the marine environment. In addition, for a transitional period and under specific requirements, the Convention allows the exchange of ballast water (Regulation D-1 of the BWM Convention). Furthermore, every ship shall have a Ballast Water Management Plan on board, as well as an International Ballast Water Management Certificate, and maintain a Ballast Water Record Book.

The exact timetable for compliance relating to the D-1 or the D-2 standard for every individual ship was revised in December 2014 by the IMO Resolution A.1088 (28). The periods prescribed in the Convention (Regulation B-3 of the BWM Convention) had either become obsolete by the elapse of time or no longer appeared adequate.

The Ballast Water Management Convention enters into force twelve months after the date on which not less than thirty States, the combined merchant fleets of which constitute not less than thirty-five percent of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping, have either signed it without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or approval, or have deposited the requisite instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession in accordance with Article 17. The Accession by Finland on 8 September 2016 has triggered the entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention. The accession brings the combined tonnage of the 52 contracting States to 35.1441%. Therefore, the Convention will enter into force on 8 September 2017.

Information on the current state of the ratification of the Convention is available here.

In the meantime, a large number of guidelines and circulars have been drawn up to facilitate the implementation of the Convention on Ballast Water. An overview of these guidelines and circulars is available here.

Implementation of the BWM Convention in Germany

Germany acceded to the Convention on 13th February 2013 when the Law on Ballast Water (Ballastwasser-Gesetz) was passed. On 20th June 2013, the corresponding instrument of ratification was deposited with the Secretary-General of the IMO. Supplementary provisions both on the BWM Convention and the prosecution of infringements of the Convention were adopted in the Regulations on Environmentally Sustainable Behaviour in Maritime Shipping (SeeUmwVerhV) which for the greater part only become applicable on the date the BWM Convention comes into force for the Federal Republic of Germany.

Regional cooperation for the implementation of the BWM Convention

Within the framework of the HELCOM and OSPAR Conventions, the North Sea and Baltic Sea Coastal States have been acting in concert for a coordinated and effective implementation of the BWM Convention in these regions for many years. For example, with the support of experts from the member states, HELCOM has developed a  HELCOM Guide to Alien Species and Ballast Water Management in the Baltic Sea  in order to reduce the negative effects of invasive species in the Baltic region. This Guide is particularly aimed at ships entering the Baltic Sea and provides an overview of both global and regional measures for the treatment of ballast water that are applicable to the Baltic Sea. The Guide presents, inter alia, three Guidance Documents (see below) on the exchange of ballast water, which have been produced as a result of a cooperation of HELCOM with the Convention for Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) and the OSPAR Commission, and published by the IMO in the form of different circulars:

Furthermore, HELCOM and OSPAR have developed the so-called “Joint HELCOM/OSPAR Harmonized Procedure on the Granting of BWM Convention Exemptions, which provides for a coordinated procedure in relation to the granting of exemptions for the North-East Atlantic and the Baltic Sea in accordance with Regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention and is based on the IMO Guidelines G7. The document is subject to continuous review by HELCOM and OSPAR and is periodically updated in the light of new findings.

Within theframework of the HELCOM and OSPAR Conventions, the North Sea and Baltic Sea Coastal States have been acting in concert for a coordinated and effective implementation of the BWM Convention in these regions for many years. For example, with the support of experts from the member states HELCOM has developed a Guide HELCOM Guide to Alien Species and Ballast Water Management in the Baltic Sea  in order to reduce the negative effects of invasive species in the Baltic region. This guide is particularly aimed at ships entering the Baltic Sea and provides an overview of both global and regional measures for the treatment of ballast water that are applicable to the Baltic Sea. The Guide presents, inter alia, three Guidance Documents (see below) on the exchange of ballast water, which have been produced as a result of a cooperation of HELCOM with the Convention for Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) and the OSPAR Commission, and published by the IMO in the form of different circulars:General Guidance on the Voluntary Interim Application of the D1 Ballast Water Exchange Standard in the North-East Atlantic (BWM.2 Cir.14 (2008))

Furthermore, HELCOM and OSPAR have developed the so-called “Joint HELCOM/OSPAR Harmonized Procedure on the Granting of BWM Convention Exemptions, which provides for a coordinated procedure in relation to the granting of exemptions for the North-East Atlantic and the Baltic Sea in accordance with Regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention and is based on the IMO Guidelines G7. The document is subject to continuous review by HELCOM and OSPAR and is periodically updated in the light of new findings.

Approval of ballast water management systems

At the time of adopting the BWM Convention, there was no suitable treatment technology available to meet the strict D-2 standard. In the meantime, various systems and technologies have been developed and constructed by manufacturers worldwide, which have already undergone (or are currently undergoing) the complex type approval process by the competent national authorities required by the relevant IMO Guidelines, as well as an additional approval process by the IMO – in case that active substances are used for treatment in the ballast water management systems.

In Germany, under Arts. 5, para. 1, no. 4c, 1 no. 16, Seeaufgabengesetz (Federal Maritime Responsibilities Act), the BSH is the competent authority for measures to prevent the introduction of alien species by ships, and thus also for the approval of ballast water management systems. The approval procedure comprises comprehensive test and inspection procedures and is based on the IMO Guidelines for the Approval of Ballast Water Systems (G8) and Guidelines for the Procedure for the Approval of Ballast Water Treatment Systems that Use Active Substances (G9). The BSH has issued several type approvals for ballast water management systems.

 Information about the type approval procedure:

Type approval
Type approval certificates

 

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 © 2016 Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie Last Update: Sep 15, 2016 8:42:27 AM  
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