When the IMO’s environment committee, the MEPC, meets in October, exemptions from the forthcoming ballast-water convention for ferries and others will be discussed at Denmark’s behest, Danish Shipowners’ Association said in a release.
Danish shipping companies have invested billions of kroner in green technology in recent years and are prepared to make even greater investments as a result of forthcoming environmental regulation measures. But regulation must benefit the environment or else the investment becomes meaningless.
This applies to ballast water, an area in which the international IMO convention is expected to receive the required support this year, enabling it to enter into force 12 months later.
As the land lies currently, the convention will cover all international shipping, including, therefore, for example, the 4 km-long ferry route between Helsingør in Denmark and Helsingborg in Sweden.
The legislation makes good sense for long international routes, but not for ferry traffic and other small-scale local shipping, according to Peter Olsen, who is Head of Secretariat for the Danish Car Ferry Association, and responsible for ballast water at the Shipowners’ Associations.
“There is a risk of imposing a financial burden of several million kroner per ship without there being any demonstrated risk presented by spreading seawater from one port to a neighbouring port in the same sea,” he says.
The consequence may be that ferries have to invest in equipment for purifying ballast water, despite the fact that it is inconceivable that they will spread invasive animal species – such as certain types of crustaceans – over such a short distance.
The convention does include a few potential exemptions, but, on closer inspection, these have turned out to be impractical and the conditions are too restrictive in relation to local shipping.
Denmark, in the form of the Danish Maritime Authority and the Danish Nature Agency, plus the Shipowners’ Associations, has now together with Interferry approached the International Maritime Organization (IMO), in order to get the possibilities for exemptions for local shipping onto the agenda for the forthcoming meeting of the IMO’s environment committee, the MEPC, in October.
“It would defy logic if it wasn’t possible to make exceptions for ships undertaking certain international voyages. Until now, the Danish side has stood very much alone in raising this relevant issue in Europe, but we hope that this new initiative will ensure that a pragmatic solution is reached before the convention comes into force,” says Peter Olsen.
Press Release, August 14, 2014; Image: DSA