Nigeria ratifies international environmental convention

The Federal Republic of Nigeria yesterday became the fifth country to ratify the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments when Minister of Transport Dr. Abiye Sekibo deposited an instrument of ratification with IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos.

The ballast water convention, adopted by IMO in 2004, is designed to prevent the potentially devastating effects of the spread of harmful aquatic organisms carried in ships' ballast water. The Convention will require all ships to implement a Ballast Water and Sediments Management Plan. All ships will have to carry a Ballast Water Record Book and will be required to carry out ballast water management procedures to a given standard.

In thanking the minister for the ratification Mr. Mitropoulos emphasized the importance of early, wide and effective implementation of the Convention, which will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 States, representing 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage. To date, the Convention has five ratifications, Nigeria joining the Maldives, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis and the Syrian Arab Republic. Mr. Mitropoulos said he hoped this latest ratification would provide a spur to other shipping nations with larger fleets and encourage them to do what was necessary to bring the Convention into force as early as possible.

Background for editors
The problem of harmful aquatic organisms in ships' ballast water was first raised at IMO in 1988 and since then IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), together with the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and technical sub-committees, have been addressing the issue, focusing first on guidelines and then on developing the ballast water convention.

The problem has been exacerbated in recent years due to increased trade and traffic volumes. The effects in many areas of the world have been devastating. Quantitative data show the rate of bio-invasions is continuing to increase at an alarming rate, in many cases exponentially, and new areas are being invaded all the time. Volumes of seaborne trade continue overall to increase and the problem may not yet have reached its peak.

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution from ships, at an international conference held from 9 to13 February 2004 at IMO's London Headquarters.

Briefing 40, 14 October 2005

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IMO - the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

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