The Mediterranean Coastal States Proceed Towards the Adoption of Voluntary Interim Ballast Water Management Arrangements
Thursday, 09 February 2012
On 14 February 2004, the International Maritime Organization adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Waters and Sediments
(BWM Convention) with a view to addressing the devastating direct and indirect effects caused by the transfer in ships’ ballast waters of aquatic invasive species and organisms to the marine environment, human health, property and resources. The BWM Convention was followed by a comprehensive Programme, approved by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) at its fifty-first session in April 2004 and expanded at its fifty-third session in July 2005, which sets out an array of guidelines aimed at promoting and facilitating the uniform and swift implementation of the Convention at global and regional level. In parallel, in the context of its development and evolution process, the international ships’ ballast water regime was enhanced by the establishment of a ballast water management system, incorporating specified standards which help IMO Member States comply with the provisions of the BWM Convention (the ballast water exchange standard and the ballast water performance standard).
The BWM Convention has not yet entered into force. It will come into force 12 months after ratification by 30 States, representing not less than 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage. As of December 2011, 32 States have ratified the BWM Convention, representing 26,46% of the gross tonnage of the world merchant shipping.
Pending the entry into force of the BWM Convention, the Mediterranean countries adopted voluntary interim ballast water management measures in an effort to reduce and control the invasion in their region of aquatic species and organisms through shipping. The so called Harmonized Voluntary Arrangements for Ballast Water Management in the Mediterranean Region
(IMO BWM.2/Circ 35), provides guidance for ballast water exchange and management options to vessels sailing in the Mediterranean. In particular, within the framework of these arrangements, ships transiting the Mediterranean Sea area should exchange their ballast waters in line with the requirements set forth in the respective regulation of the BWM Convention (Regulation/Standard D-1). These measures, which are applicable as from 1 January 2012, are to be followed on a voluntary and interim basis. They will be in force until the date that the BWM Convention will come into force.
In accordance with the main adopted voluntary and interim measures in the Mediterranean Sea area:
Source: International Maritime Organization (IMO), Safety4Sea Alerts Services
- - Every vessel calling at a port within the Mediterranean Sea area is required to have on board a Ballast Water Management Plan (Plan) complying with the requirements of the "Guidelines for Ballast Water Management and Development of Ballast water Management Plans” (IMO Resolution MEPC.127(53)) and to keep a record of all ballast water operations carried out. The Plan shall be specific to each ship and shall provide detailed procedures and descriptions of all the actions to be taken in order to implement the BWM practices required by the Convention. The Plan should also identify the officer in charge of ballast water;
- - Sediments collected during cleaning or repair of ballast tanks should be delivered to appropriate reception facilities in ports and terminals, or be discharged more than 200 nautical miles from the nearest land when the ship is sailing in the Mediterranean Sea area;
- - Ballast water exchange is to be done on the basis of specific procedures regarding the place where the ballast water exchange will be undertaken, its trade and its operation.
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