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).
ICS stated on December 17, 2014 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.”
Today, Sekimizu met Masamichi Morooka, Chairman of ICS, for discussions on the matter.
During their meeting, Sekimizu expressed his wish 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 percent of world tonnage is required to trigger its entry into force, which in turn would open up the possibility to amend the Convention. Morooka and Sekimizu agreed to encourage IMO Member Governments to start thinking how the requirements of the Convention could be improved, taking into account the experience gained and in order to formally reflect in the Convention those measures agreed by IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in October 2014 (MEPC 67) and the revised implementation schedule adopted by IMO Assembly resolution A.1088(28).
Speaking after the meeting, Sekimizu said, “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.”
He added, “The early entry into force of the BWM Convention and its global implementation under the framework of maritime governance at IMO will ensure that standards adopted and measures agreed at IMO will be implemented globally, thus creating a level playing field for the shipping industry."
“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 percent in its registry has ratified the BWM Convention this year. Liberia and Marshall Islands had already ratified the Convention and they have my appreciation and recognition as flag states that have provided significant contribution towards the entry into force of the BWM Convention," Sekimizu said.
He concluded, “I recognize that the position of ICS has had a considerable influence over the decisions of IMO Member States during the last two years and, with the change of position of ICS triggered by the resolution adopted at the latest MEPC, I now sincerely hope that those States holding tonnage of more than 2.5 percent will also change their position and take swift actions to ratify the BWM Convention as soon as possible, so that we can make real progress in dealing with the problems of invasive species through ballast water on which IMO has spent enormous amounts of time, energy and serious effort in order to protect the marine environment over the last two decades.”
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 percent of world merchant shipping tonnage. The number of ratifying states (43) is already sufficient but, at 32.54 percent, their collective share of world merchant shipping tonnage is not quite sufficient to trigger entry into force.