Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments
adopted in 2004
problem of harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water was first raised at IMO
in 1988 and since then the MEPC, together with MSC and technical sub-committees,
has been dealing with the issue. In order to help developing countries understand
the problem and monitor the situation, IMO is implementing the GEF/UNDP/IMO
Global Ballast Water Management Programme (GloBallast) and has provided
technical support and expertise.
The problem of
invasive species is largely due to the expanded trade and traffic volume over
the last few decades. 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.
It is estimated
that about three-10 billion tonnes of ballast water are transferred globally
each year, potentially transferring from one location to another species of
sealife that may prove ecologically harmful when released into a non-native
conference from 9 to13 February 2004 adopted the
International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water
and Sediments, a new international convention to prevent the potentially
devastating effects of the spread of harmful aquatic organisms carried by ships'
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. Existing
ships will be required to do the same, but after a phase-in period.
the Convention are given the option to take additional measures which are subject
to criteria set out in the Convention and to IMO guidelines
At its 53rd
session in July 2005, IMO's Marine environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted
Guidelines for uniform implementation of the International Convention for
the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention).
The guidelines adopted cover ballast water management equivalent compliance;
approval of ballast water management systems; ballast water management and development
of ballast water management plans; ballast water exchange and the Procedure
for approval of ballast water management systems that make use of Active Substances.
MEPC 55 outcome
Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) at its 55th session in October 2006
the following guidelines, which are part of a series developed to assist in
the implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management
of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) adopted in February 2004:
water exchange design and control standards (G11);
and construction to facilitate sediment control on ships (G12);
designation of areas for ballast water exchange (G14);
sediment reception facilities (G1); and
water reception facilities (G5).
Six other guidelines
in the series have already been adopted during the last two sessions of the
MEPC. The Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) was instructed to finalize
guidelines on additional measures including emergency situations (G13).
following consideration of the report of the second meeting of the GESAMP1
Ballast Water Working Group, which met in May 2006, the MEPC granted Basic Approval
to two BWM systems proposed by Japan (the Special Pipe Ballast Water Management
System (combined with Ozone treatment)) and Sweden (the EctoSys electrochemical
Water Review Group met during the session to evaluate the latest information
on ballast water treatment technologies and to determine whether appropriate
technologies are available to achieve the ballast water performance standard
required under regulation D-2 of the BWM Convention by 2009, the first date
specified in the Convention under which new ships must comply with the performance
standard. Based on the Review Group's conclusions, the MEPC noted that type-approved
ballast water management systems would probably be available for installation
prior to the first application date of the BWM Convention. However, the installation
of type-approved ballast water management systems on ships already contracted
to be built in or after 2009 may not be feasible or only possible at excessive
cost and/or delivery delay.
The MEPC noted two options as suggested in the report of the Review Group: (1)
to amend the first application date specified in the BWM Convention; or (2)
to develop an exemption procedure for the first set of vessels.
to the above suggested options, the Chairman of the MEPC stated that the amendment
procedure of the BWM Convention (described in Article 19) could not be applied
until the Convention is in force. The Committee strongly urged all Member Governments
to ratify the Convention at their earliest convenience so that either amendments
or exemptions could be considered by the MEPC as soon as the conditions for
entry into force are satisfied.
to address the concerns related to the availability of appropriate technologies,
the Committee invited Administrations to develop recommendations to ensure that
owners allow for technology to be included in ship design; invited Administrations
with land-based testing facilities to supply information to the next session
of the Committee (in July 2007) on the existence, utilization, capacity, accreditation
and capabilities of their facilities; and invited Member States and observers
to submit information on the estimated number of vessels in the first category
to which the Convention may apply.
noted that, to date, only six countries representing 0.62% of the world tonnage
had become contracting States to the BWM Convention and once again urged Member
States to ratify it at the earliest possible opportunity.
MEPC 54 outcome
at its 54th session in March 2006 adopted the Guidelines for approval and
oversight of prototype ballast water treatment technology programmes (G10),
which are part of a series of guidelines developed to assist in the implementation
of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast
Water and Sediments (BWM Convention).
of guidelines are referred to in the Convention. Six have already been adopted
and the remainder are being developed by the Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and
Gases (BLG) with input from the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI).
agreed to give basic approval to two ballast water management systems that make
use of active substances, after consideration of the report of the first session
of the GESAMP Ballast Water Working Group on Active Substances, which met in
One system involves the use of a biocide for treatment of ballast water and
the other involves the disinfection of ballast water by electrolysis with the
generation of free chlorine, sodium hypochlorite and hydroxyl radicals and by
electrochemical oxidation through the creation of ozone and hydrogen peroxide.
ballast water management systems
The dedicated Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental
Protection (GESAMP) -Ballast Water (GESAMP-BW) Technical Group on Active Substances
has been established to review any proposals submitted for approval of Ballast
Water Management systems that make use of Active Substances. This group would
then report to the Organization on whether such a proposal presents unreasonable
risk to the environment, human health, property or resources in accordance with
the criteria specified in the Procedure for approval of ballast water management
systems that make use of Active Substances.
Technical Group will be financed through a fee scheme and paid for by the body
or industry requesting approval of a ballast water management system using Active
Review of Convention
requires a review to be undertaken no later than three years before the first
effective date for compliance set out in the Convention in order to determine
whether appropriate technologies are available to achieve the standard. A Review
Group established at the session reviewed 14 different ballast water management
technologies and systems which could meet the ballast water performance standard
in the Convention.
Regulation D-2 Ballast Water Performance Standard - states that ships conducting
ballast water management shall discharge less than 10 viable organisms per cubic
metre greater than or equal to 50 micrometres in minimum dimension and less
than 10 viable organisms per milliliter less than 50 micrometres in minimum
dimension and greater than or equal to 10 micrometres in minimum dimension;
and discharge of the indicator microbes shall not exceed the specified concentrations.
The indicator microbes, as a human health standard, include, but are not be
Toxicogenic Vibrio cholerae (O1 and O139) with less than 1 colony forming
unit (cfu) per 100 milliliters or less than 1 cfu per 1 gram (wet weight)
Escherichia coli less than 250 cfu per 100 milliliters;
Intestinal Enterococci less than 100 cfu per 100 milliliters.
and systems were reviewed against criteria of safety, environmental acceptability,
practicability, cost effectiveness and biological effectiveness including an
assessment of socio-economic effects, specifically in relation to the developmental
needs of developing countries, particularly small island developing States.
It was agreed
that the information collected to date on the systems and technologies currently
being tested suggested they had the potential to meet the criteria and it was,
therefore, anticipated that final approval of the systems, following testing
and evaluation, could be achieved during 2008. The Review Group would meet again
at MEPC 55.
At July 2005, eight countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Finland, Maldives,
The Netherlands, Spain and Syrian Arab Republic) have signed the Ballast Water
Management Convention, subject to ratification. Maldives became the first Contracting
Party after depositing its instrument of ratification on 22 June 2005. The Convention
will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 States, representing
35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage. See Status
In order to help developing countries understand the problem, monitor the situation
and prepare for the convention, IMO is implementing the GEF/UNDP/IMO Global
Ballast Water Management Programme (GloBallast: http://globallast.imo.org/
) and has provided technical support and expertise. The
programme is currently entering its second phase.
Scientists first recognized the signs of an alien species introduction after
a mass occurrence of the Asian phytoplankton algae Odontella (Biddulphia sinensis)
in the North Sea in 1903.
But it was
not until the 1970s that the scientific community began reviewing the problem
in detail. In the late 1980s, Canada and Australia were among countries experiencing
particular problems with unwanted species, and they brought their concerns to
the attention of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).
In 1991 the
MEPC adopted MEPC resolution 50(31) - Guidelines for Preventing the Introduction
of Unwanted Organisms and Pathogens from Ships' Ballast Water and Sediment Discharges;
while the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED),
held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, recognized the issue as a major international
1993, the IMO Assembly adopted resolution A.774(18) - Guidelines for Preventing
the Introduction of Unwanted Organisms and Pathogens from Ships' Ballast Water
and Sediment Discharges, based on the Guidelines adopted in 1991. The resolution
requested the MEPC and the MSC to keep the Guidelines under review with a view
to developing internationally applicable, legally-binding provisions.
Assembly of IMO in November 1997 adopted resolution A.868(20) - Guidelines
for the control and management of ships' ballast water to minimize the transfer
of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens.
The development of the draft mandatory instrument continued, until its adoption
in February 2004.
Some examples of aquatic bio-invasions causing major impact are listed in the
table, but there are hundreds of other serious invasions which have been recorded
around the world:
Vibrio cholerae (various strains)
strains with broad ranges
America, Gulf of Mexico
and other areas
cholera epidemics appear to be directly associated with ballast water
and Caspian Seas
to form very large populations that dominate the zooplankton community and
clog fishing nets and trawls, with associated economic impacts
Europe, Baltic Sea
and West Coast North America
mass migrations for reproductive purposes. Burrows into river banks and
dykes causing erosion and siltation. Preys on native fish and invertebrate
species, causing local extinctions during population outbreaks. Interferes
with fishing activities
Algae(Red/Brown/ Green Tides)
species with broad ranges
species have been
transferred to new areas in ships' ballast water
form Harmful Algae Blooms. Depending on the species, can cause massive kills
of marine life through oxygen depletion, release of toxins and/or mucus.
Can foul beaches and impact on tourism and recreation. Some species may
contaminate filter-feeding shellfish and cause fisheries to be closed. Consumption
of contaminated shellfish by humans may cause severe illness and death
and Caspian Seas
Sea and North America
adaptable and invasive. Increases in numbers and spreads quickly. Competes
for food and habitat with native fishes including commercially important
species, and preys on their eggs and young. Spawns multiple times per season
and survives in poor water quality
American Comb Jelly
Seaboard of the Americas
Azov and Caspian Seas
rapidly (self fertilising hermaphrodite) under favourable conditions. Feeds
excessively on zooplankton. Depletes zooplankton stocks; altering food web
and ecosystem function. Contributed significantly to collapse of Black and
Asov Sea fisheries in 1990s, with massive economic and social impact. Now
threatens similar impact in Caspian Sea.
in large numbers, reaching 'plague' proportions rapidly in invaded environments.
Feeds on shellfish, including commercially valuable scallop, oyster and
Europe (Black Sea)
Western and northern Europe, including Ireland and Baltic Sea;eastern half
all available hard surfaces in mass numbers. Displaces native aquatic life.
Alters habitat, ecosystem and food web. Causes severe fouling problems on
infrastructure and vessels. Blocks water intake pipes, sluices and irrigation
ditches. Economic costs to USA alone of around US$750 million to $1 billion
between 1989 and 2000
New Zealand, West Coast
of the United States, Europe and Argentina
and spreads rapidly, both vegetatively and through dispersal of spores.
Displaces native algae and marine life. Alters habitat, ecosystem and food
web. May affect commercial shellfish stocks through space competition and
alteration of habitat
Australia, South Africa,
the United States and Japan
adaptable and invasive. Resistant to predation due to hard shell. Competes
with and displaces native crabs and becomes a dominant species in invaded
areas. Consumes and depletes wide range of prey species. Alters inter-tidal
rocky shore ecosystem
paper - Alien invaders - putting a stop to the ballast water hitch-hikers (1999)
Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)
See also Global Ballast Water Management Programme