IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu has welcomed the reconsideration by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) of its position towards the ratification by Governments of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWM Convention).
Earlier this month ICS stated that it will “no longer actively discourage those governments that have not yet done so from ratifying the Convention, in order that it might enter into force sooner rather than later so that amendments to the Convention, which the industry has requested, can then be adopted and implemented by governments as soon as possible.”
On Monday, December 22, Secretary-General Sekimizu met Masamichi Morooka, Chairman of ICS, for discussions on the matter.
During their meeting, Secretary Sekimizu said that governments, and in particular those with a large merchant shipping tonnage under their flag, should take action to ratify the BWM Convention as soon as possible. Currently, only a further 2.46 per cent of world tonnage is required to trigger its entry into force, which in turn would open up the possibility to amend the Convention.
“My personal message to the shipping industry is to take action as soon as possible to start preparations for installing ballast water management systems on board existing ships, in advance of the revised implementation schedule agreed by the IMO Assembly (resolution A.1088 (28)). This would avoid the risk of creating a bottleneck at shipyards during the initial implementation period, when the demand for retrofitting of such systems is expected to be high,” Secretary Sekimizu said.
Adopted in 2004, the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) addresses the problem of aquatic organisms and pathogens being released into non-native environments after being transported around the world in ships’ ballast water. Such organisms may survive and out-compete native species, becoming invasive and causing a great deal of damage to the local ecosystem. The BWM Convention requires the treatment and management of ballast water in order to kill off such microorganisms or species.
The treaty will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 States, collectively representing 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage. The number of ratifying states (43) is already sufficient but, at 32.54 per cent, their collective share of world merchant shipping tonnage is not quite sufficient to trigger entry into force.
“IMO Member States have a responsibility to ratify IMO Conventions. At this moment, with 43 States having already ratified the BWM Convention, it must be stated that the responsibility of States holding a large amount of tonnage in their registry is of paramount importance, because, without their ratifications, the Convention will not come into force in the foreseeable future. In spite of my request at the beginning of this year, under the theme of ‘IMO conventions: effective implementation’, no State holding tonnage of more than 2.5 per cent in its registry has ratified the BWM Convention this year,” said Sekimizu.
Secretary Sekimizu said that he sincerely hopes that those States holding tonnage of more than 2.5 percent will follow ICS’ lead in changing their position, and take swift actions to ratify the BWM Convention as soon as possible.