ICS urges governments to address concerns on ballast water convention

London-based International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has reiterated its call for governments to see sense concerning the proposed implementation of the IMO Ballast Water Management (BMW) Convention.

Esben Poulsson, vice chairman of ICS, explained that the governments need to address issues including the lack of robustness of the current IMO type-approval process for the expensive treatment equipment, the criteria to be used for sampling ballast water during Port State Control inspections and the need for ‘grandfathering’ of already fitted type-approved equipment.

“When the BMW Convention eventually enters into force, the shipping industry will be required to invest billions of dollars to ensure compliance,” Poulsson said.

“However, because of the unanswered questions about the Convention’s detailed implementation, much of the industry – and society at large – continues to lack confidence that the new treatment equipment will actually work, or that it will be found to comply with the standards that governments have set for killing unwanted marine micro-organisms,” he added.

ICS has expressed particular concern that port state sanctions could impact unfairly on shipowners who have fitted type-approved equipment only to be told subsequently that it falls short of the required standard.

ICS, however, believes that the legal changes needed to make the ballast regime fit for purpose – such as making IMO guidelines on type-approved mandatory – are relatively straightforward and could still be agreed in principle by governments quickly.

The 67th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), during which IMO Member States will consider the industry’s proposed solutions, will take place from 13-17 October in London.

A large group of maritime associations, led by ICS, has made a detailed submission to the next MEPC, reiterating the industry’s concerns and the proposed way forward.