The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) meets for its 65th session this week, at IMO Headquarters in London. An important issue on the MEPC agenda is consideration of a draft IMO Assembly resolution on the application of regulation B-3 of the BWM Convention.
In opening address of the MEPC session, IMO’s Secretary General Koji Sekimizu called on more nations for implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention.
“With 36 contracting parties to date and with the only outstanding entry into force condition of 35% of the world’s merchant tonnage now being close to fulfilment, a little under 6% is all that is still required. We ought to be optimistic that the Convention will enter into force soon.” However, he noted that “the industry continues to have major concerns over the cost of compliance”.
The Secretary strongly suggested that now is the time to move towards implementation. The problem associated with ballast water is inherently connected to the expansion of world trade and, therefore, an issue from which the shipping industry cannot escape.
He further noted “It is recognized that there is a substantive cost required for installing and operating a ballast water management system – some 1-2 million US dollars per ship, depending on size and type, plus operational costs. However, the estimated costs for society to deal with problems caused by alien aquatic species are comparatively very high, in fact astronomical.”
“Shipowners understandably are concerned about incurring additional costs and costs of compliance, especially in the current difficult economic climate and as the costs of other environmental regulations such as sulphur restriction requirements and energy efficiency standards must also be absorbed. It is also inevitable that the development of new technologies required for regulatory compliance takes time, which has caused many owners to hold back from applying them on board recently constructed ships.”, said Mr. Sekimizu.
He then strongly encouraged IMO Member Governments, and the major flag States in particular, to co operate and establish meaningful measures which would ease the burden for the shipping industry of introducing the necessary ballast water management technologies, within the framework of the Ballast Water Management Convention.
Mr Sekimizu said that “very positive steps have been taken since the previous session to address outstanding concerns related to the effective implementation of the Convention.”
To view IMO Secretary General’s opening address, click here.