All around the world more than 10 billion tons of ballast water are carried in ships each year, containing thousands of species of aquatic animals and plants, creating problems for the marine environment and human health, threatening the aquatic flora and economies that depend on healthy aquatic ecosystems. In February 2004 the IMO has adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments, which is expected to enter into force in early 2012.
Since the adoption of the Convention, IMO has developed a series of guidelines that further clarify the requirements of the Convention. Detailed list can be found in the ABS notice “Ballast Water Treatment Advisory”.
The purpose of the Convention is to regulate discharges of ballast water and to reduce the risk of introducing non-native species that could harm sensitive ecosystems. In order to show compliance with the requirements of the Convention each vessel shall have on board a valid certificate, a Ballast Water Management Plan and a Ballast Water Record Book. Until the ballast water performance standard D2 becomes compulsory, ship owners are not required, yet encouraged, to install a Ballast Water Treatment System onboard their vessels. As an interim means, referred to as ballast water exchange standard D1, ships have to exchange their ballast water at sea.