Halting invasive species

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast and Sediments (BWM Convention) starts in 2017 to stop biodiversity loss caused by invasive species.

Bonn, 30.09.2016

Spreading invasive species around the world are one of the main threats for biodiversity. One example for how species can spread around the planet is ballast water for ships which can contain thousands of aquatic microbes, alae and animals. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast and Sediments (BWM Convention) is now going to start a process to reduce further biodiversity loss.

"This is a truly significant milestone for the health of our planet,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim. "The spread of invasive species has been recognized as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and the economic well-being of the planet. These species are causing enormous damage to biodiversity and the valuable natural riches of the earth upon which we depend. Invasive species also cause direct and indirect health effects and the damage to the environment is often irreversible,” he said. 

The ballast water problem

Ballast water is routinely taken on by ships for stability and structural integrity. It can contain thousands of aquatic microbes, algae and animals, which are then carried across the world’s oceans and released into ecosystems where they are not native. Untreated ballast water released at a ship’s destination could potentially introduce a new invasive aquatic species. Expanded ship trade and traffic volume over the last few decades has increased the likelihood of invasive species being released. Hundreds of invasions have already taken place, sometimes with devastating consequences for the local ecosystem.

The Ballast Water Management Convention will require all ships in international trade to manage their ballast water and sediments to certain standards, according to a ship-specific ballast water management plan. All ships will also have to carry a ballast water record book and an International Ballast Water Management Certificate. The ballast water performance standard will be phased in over a period of time. Most ships will need to install an on-board system to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms. More than 60 type-approved systems are already available.   

You can find more information on http://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/PressBriefings/Pages/22-BWM-.aspx

Tags: Fisheries | Invasive Alien Species

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