Adoption: 13 February 2004; Entry into force: 8 September 2017
Invasive aquatic species present a major threat to the marine ecosystems, and shipping has been identified as a major pathway for introducing species to new environments. The problem increased as trade and traffic volume expanded over the last few decades, and in particular with the introduction of steel hulls, allowing vessels to use water instead of solid materials as ballast. The effects of the introduction of new species have in many areas of the world been devastating. Quantitative data show the rate of bio-invasions is continuing to increase at an alarming rate. As the volumes of seaborne trade continue overall to increase, the problem may not yet have reached its peak.
However, the Ballast Water Management Convention, adopted in 2004, aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another, by establishing standards and procedures for the management and control of ships’ ballast water and sediments
Under Article 2 General Obligations Parties undertake to give full and complete effect to the provisions of the Convention and the Annex in order to prevent, minimize and ultimately eliminate the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ships’ ballast water and sediments.
Under Article 5 Sediment Reception Facilities Parties undertake to ensure that ports and terminals where cleaning or repair of ballast tanks occurs, have adequate reception facilities for the reception of sediments.
Article 6 Scientific and Technical Research and Monitoring calls for Parties individually or jointly to promote and facilitate scientific and technical research on ballast water management; and monitor the effects of ballast water management in waters under their jurisdiction.
Ships are required to be surveyed and certified (Article 7 Survey and certification) and may be inspected by port State control officers (Article 9 Inspection of Ships) who can verify that the ship has a valid certificate; inspect the Ballast Water Record Book; and/or sample the ballast water. If there are concerns, then a detailed inspection may be carried out and «the Party carrying out the inspection shall take such steps as will ensure that the ship shall not discharge Ballast Water until it can do so without presenting a threat of harm to the environment, human health, property or resources.»
Under Article 13 Technical Assistance, Co-operation and Regional Co-operation, Parties undertake, directly or through the Organization and other international bodies, as appropriate, in respect of the control and management of ships’ ballast water and sediments, to provide support for those Parties which request technical assistance to train personnel; to ensure the availability of relevant technology, equipment and facilities; to initiate joint research and development programmes; and to undertake other action aimed at the effective implementation of this Convention and of guidance developed by the Organization related thereto.
This includes definitions, application and exemptions. Under Regulation A-2 General Applicability: «Except where expressly provided otherwise, the discharge of Ballast Water shall only be conducted through Ballast Water Management, in accordance with the provisions of this Annex.»
Ships are required to have on board and implement a Ballast Water Management Plan approved by the Administration (Regulation B-1). The Ballast Water Management Plan is specific to each ship and includes a detailed description of the actions to be taken to implement the Ballast Water Management requirements and supplemental Ballast Water Management practices.
A Party, individually or jointly with other Parties, may impose on ships additional measures to prevent, reduce, or eliminate the transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens through ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments.
In these cases, the Party or Parties should consult with adjoining or nearby States that may be affected by such standards or requirements and should communicate their intention to establish additional measure(s) to the Organization at least 6 months, except in emergency or epidemic situations, prior to the projected date of implementation of the measure(s). When appropriate, Parties will have to obtain the approval of IMO.
There is a ballast water exchange standard and a ballast water performance standard. Ballast water exchange could be used to meet the performance standard:
a. 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) zooplankton samples ;
b. Escherichia coli less than 250 cfu per 100 milliliters;
c. Intestinal Enterococci less than 100 cfu per 100 milliliters.
Regulation D-4 covers Prototype Ballast Water Treatment Technologies. It allows for ships participating in a programme approved by the Administration to test and evaluate promising Ballast Water treatment technologies to have a leeway of five years before having to comply with the requirements.
Under regulation D-5 Review of Standards by the Organization, IMO is required to review the Ballast Water Performance Standard, taking into account a number of criteria including safety considerations; environmental acceptability, i.e., not causing more or greater environmental impacts than it solves; practicability, i.e., compatibility with ship design and operations; cost effectiveness; and biological effectiveness in terms of removing, or otherwise rendering inactive harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in ballast water. The review should include a determination of whether appropriate technologies are available to achieve the standard, an assessment of the above mentioned criteria, and an assessment of the socio-economic effect(s) specifically in relation to the developmental needs of developing countries, particularly small island developing States.
Gives requirements for initial renewal, annual, intermediate and renewal surveys and certification requirements. Appendices give form of Ballast Water Management Certificate and Form of Ballast Water Record Book.