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IMO-GloBallast R&D Forum on Ballast Water Management highlights solutions

Date: 12/05/2016

Ballast water management experts, meeting at the recent IMO-GloBallast R&D Forum in Canada, have showcased the latest developments in ballast water management and highlighted the areas where further research is needed, in order to prevent the spread of potentially harmful species in ballast water.

Some 140 participants from IMO Member States, academia, private sector, testing facilities and the maritime technology industry were meeting at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada, for the 6th Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Program (UNDP)-IMO GloBallast R&D Forum and Exhibition on Ballast Water Management (16-18 March 2016), under the banner “Ballast Water Management Convention – moving towards implementation”.

IMO’s International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments is very close to reaching its entry into force criteria. The convention will require ships to manage their ballast water so that any aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location.

The participants highlighted the need for further research, in particularly for compliance and monitoring, alternative treatment methods and risk assessment based decision support tools.

Responding to shipowner concerns about the reliability of available ballast water management treatment systems, the Forum held a session on alternative treatment methods. During a dedicated session, participants were informed about available solutions, including port-based contingency measures, mobile treatment solutions and ballast water management treatment boats. Mobile treatment solutions include those on barges or small boats, which can plug into the ship for example when the ballast water management system installed is not functioning or has broken down. This could offer shipowners the flexibility and reliability they are looking for.

Discussions on risk assessment for exemptions and ship targeting for port State control officers, also took place. Port State control officers will be at the front line of monitoring compliance with the Ballast Water Management Convention once it enters into force. It was noted that while research still needs to be undertaken, several tools already exist to support port State control monitoring and other are in the pipeline. In particular, participants highlighted a need for the development of risk assessment based decision support tools for port State control officers.

The discussions during the R&D Forum are expected to play a catalytic role in the development of such new tools, from port-based measures to risk assessment software.

The Forum ended by opening the topic of discussion to the other main vector for the transfer of marine invasive aquatic species via ships, namely through biofouling, the undesirable accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae and animals on submerged structures (especially ships’ hulls). IMO has adopted Guidelines for the control and management of ships' biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species.

Source: IMO       

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