Getting set for the Ballast Water Convention
Need to fast track all efforts to get set for the Ballast Water convention
Strangely, the presentations seem to have caught several participants unaware of the implications, the liabilities and the bearing it will have on their operations. Very symbolically the question posed by the former Nautical Advisor to the Government of India, Capt S S Naphade at the fag end of the program was ‘If the convention comes into force in a year’s time, why then is no training programs being conducted? How else will every seafarer, stakeholder and others get ready to shoulder the responsibilities?’
From the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Dr. Jose Matheickal, Head – Technical Cooperation Coordination & Major Projects, and Chief Technical Advisor (GloBallast Partnerships), MED came all the way to be present and deliver the keynote address. He averred that bio ecologic threats to marine environment due to invasion of alien species could take on frightening dimensions. One can’t predict when, where and with what destructive magnitude alien species could surface from our surrounding waters and take a toll on our environment.
“The livelihood of the fishing community along the Caspian Sea coast has been totally wiped out as a result of species from the Black sea finding their way through ballast water that was discharged in the Caspian sea,” he pointed out. He also informed that 30 member states comprising 35 per cent of the world tonnage was required to ratify the convention which will result in the convention coming into force a year later.
The Director General of Shipping, Union Ministry of Shipping, Government of India, Dr. S. B. Agnihotri advised that we need to give up the ‘crab mentality’, and if one common goal was to be achieved the maritime community needs to come together and take up the challenges and determine the best way forward to protect our planet. “Testing facilities for inspecting the ballast water samples will be needed whether India has it or not. The cost for testing ballast water needs to be determined and surveyors will have to fast track establishing the testing facilities.
Dr Agnihotri also welcomed the initiative of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to develop port specific ballast water management plans and hoped that all ports would come together and work along the same lines. “We are already late in this power play but it does not matter,” he said.
Mr N N Kumar, Deputy Chairman of JNPT informed that his port was set on keeping ahead in ballast management. “Ballast Water risk assessment was also being done by the Visakhapatnam and Mormugao ports. Each year over two million tons of ballast water was being discharged at the JN port.
“The Indian National Shipowners’ Association (INSA) has asked the government for early ratification of the Ballast Water Convention,” pointed out I. N. Bose, General Manager of Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd. “Once this comes into force the port state control will ask, ‘Where is your ballast water treatment. If not, punitive action will be taken against the defaulter.” He cautioned stakeholders about the possibility of bottle neck phenomenon taking place once the convention comes into force with all rushing in to gearing up to meet the requirements. Do we have the manufacturing capacity from now on? The US is asking for ballast water treatment which is several times more stringent.”
“If treatment equipment is to be installed in ships it takes four months for big vessels and one month for the smaller ones. Today over 4000 ballast water systems have to be installed worldwide. The worst is that there is confusion about how the sampling of ballast water is to be done to ensure that the water is in compliance with the Convention requirement.”
From the Directorate General of Shipping S. S. Gadkari presented the Administration’s views, sampling / Port State Control and policy impediments in implementing the convention. He explained the initiatives underway under the Ballast water Management Program funded by the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India.
There were also Hyuck-Man Park from Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering to present the ship yard perspective while Andreas Rosebrock of Bremen, Germany spoke on the manufacturers’ perspective on marine water technology which covered the various technologies being developed with regard ballast water system.