Ballast Water Convention ‘meaningless’ for shortsea shipping, says Denmark

Denmark, one of Europe’s leading investors in environmental shipping technology, will lobby for shortsea shipping to be exempt from the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention at IMO’s next Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in October.

The Danish Shipping Association (DSA), Danish Maritime Authority, Danish Nature Agency and Inter ferry approached IMO over possible exemptions, arguing that for short-sea operators – citing a 4 kilometre ferry route between Helsingør in Denmark and Helsingborg in Sweden by way of example – to be forced to install expensive BWM systems designed for inter-continental shipping is “meaningless”.

“There is a risk of imposing a financial burden of several million kroner per ship without there being any demonstrated risk presented by spreading seawater from one port to a neighbouring port in the same sea,” said Peter Olsen, head of secretariat for the Danish Car Ferry Association.

“It would defy logic if it wasn’t possible to make exceptions for ships undertaking certain international voyages. Until now, the Danish side has stood very much alone in raising this relevant issue in Europe, but we hope that this new initiative will ensure that a pragmatic solution is reached before the convention comes into force.”

In a statement, DSA protested at ferries having to install BWM despite the spread of invasive organisms being “inconceivable… over such a short distance.”

“The convention does include a few potential exemptions, but, on closer inspection, these have turned out to be impractical and the conditions are too restrictive in relation to local shipping,” DSA said.

It is not the first time DSA has voiced scepticism of IMO’s environmental initiatives this year, after chairman Carsten Mortensen recently criticised implementation of the 0.1% sulphur cap in northern Europe, saying that that the fines for non-compliance “would in no way match the savings”.