From 17 to the 28th of October 2016, on-going negotiations within the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have finally provided clarity for the maritime industry. The Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention and the revised and finalized G8 Guidelines are the leading global policy documents at the moment of entry into force September 2017. Following an intense meeting of an inter-sessional ballast water working group, the subsequent Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) agreed to adopt the aforementioned G8 Guidelines as a mandatory ‘Code for approval of ballast water management systems’. Also, a three-step approach of data gathering, analysis and review was agreed for the process after the Convention’s entry into force in September 2017.
The following ‘roadmap’ was established for the further review process:
After the decisive ratification of Finland this September, the BWM Convention is currently ratified by 53 states representing 53.28 % of the world’s tonnage. The number of BWMS with IMO type approval now totals 69.
Data gathering from ships that have installed a BWMS on-board is crucial for a successful and effective implementation of the Convention. Long-term efficacy of treatment technologies, development of practical and reliable monitoring of BWMS in port and transparency are keywords in the process. It was agreed that port authorities, class societies and ship owners and test facilities should work together to gather valuable data. Only in this case, the designated ‘trial period’ can further ensure effective implementation. In this respect, the principle of ‘non penalization’ is also crucial for receiving more input from the maritime industry. A righteous condition of ship owners to cooperate in this field is that results of efficacy monitoring will not be used for inspection purposes. Besides the IMO regulations and guidelines, the evolving US policy in the field of ballast water offers an additional challenge for the maritime industry. As test facility and laboratory, MEA-nl strives to play a crucial role in the successful implementation of these international regulations among all the branches of the maritime industry. Working with ship owners to gather data about BWMS efficacy – for both the short and long term- is among MEA-nl’s highest priorities.