Entry into Force of BWM Convention Yet to Be Confirmed

Despite the fact that forty-seven countries have now ratified the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention with Morocco and Ghana bringing the convention ever closer to entry into force, the question still remains on whether the requirement for parties to hold 35% of the world’s tonnage has been met.

The convention will enter into force twelve months after the tonnage requirement has been met.

Tonnage figures are derived from data supplied to the IMO Secretariat by IHS Maritime & Trade. The data are normally provided to IMO twice each year, as at 31 December for treaty purposes, and as at 30 June for determining IMO Member States’ financial assessments. Those assessments are based, in part, on fleet tonnage figures supplied by IMO Member States, who have until October 31st each year to confirm their tonnage. Because of stringent IMO deadlines for determining financial assessments, those tonnage figures sometimes cannot be verified prior to submission to IMO.

The compiled 2015 assessment tonnages, released to IMO’s Member States on 16 December 2015, contained some unverified data, but also revealed that the conditions for entry into force of the BWM Convention might have been met, by a very small margin. IMO was also aware that between June and November 2015, some Parties gained tonnage and others lost tonnage. In light of this, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu requested a complete verification of tonnage data as at the time of the deposits by Morocco, Indonesia and Ghana prior to determining whether or not the BWM Convention had indeed met the entry-into-force requirements.

The verification process has not yet concluded. The precise figures will be announced after the process is complete, which is likely to be early 2016. If the ratifications by Morocco, Indonesia and Ghana add sufficient tonnage, the BWM Convention would enter into force on 24 November 2016.

Secretary-General Sekimizu again urged countries, particularly countries with large merchant fleets that have not done so, to ratify the BWM Convention so that it is widely accepted upon entry into force.

He also urged the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), in spring 2016, to prepare a set of amendments to the BWM Convention to reflect all the agreements forged at both the IMO Assembly and MEPC during the past three years, so that such amendments can be adopted as soon as possible and implemented when the BWM Convention enters into force. Further, he called on the shipping industry to take action to install necessary equipment and establish operational procedures in accordance with IMO regulations and standards, so that the BWM Convention can be effectively implemented upon entry into force.

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