What is ballast water?
Cruise ships, large tankers, and bulk cargo carriers use a huge amount of ballast water, which is often taken on in the coastal waters in one region after ships discharge wastewater or unload cargo, and discharged at the next port of call, wherever more cargo is loaded.
Cruise ships, large tankers, and bulk cargo carriers use a huge amount of ballast water, which is often taken on in the coastal waters in one region after ships discharge wastewater or unload cargo, and discharged at the next port of call, wherever more cargo is loaded. Ballast water discharge typically contains a variety of biological materials, including plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria. These materials often include non-native, nuisance, exotic species that can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to aquatic ecosystems.
To react to the growing concerns about environmental impact of ballast water discharge, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted in 2004 the "International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments" to control the environmental damage from ballast water. The Convention will require all ships to implement a "Ballast water management plan" including a ballast water record book and carrying out ballast water management procedures to a given standard. Guidelines are given for additional measures then the guidelines.
The goals of the convention are to minimise damage to the environment by:
- Minimise the uptake of organisms during ballasting.
- Minimising the uptake of sediments during ballasting.
- Ballast water exchange while at sea (the ship should be minimum 200 nautical miles from shore with a depth of minimum 200 metres and can use the flow through or sequential method). At least 95 percent of the total ballast water should be exchanged.
- Treatment of the ballast water
Control measures include:
- International Ballast Water Management Certificate
- Ballast water management plan
- Ballast water record book
The IMO convention was ratified by enough countries and entered into force on September 8, 2017.
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