Panama ratifies Ballast Water Management convention

Panama has become the latest country to accede to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Ballast Water Management (BMW) Convention, bringing the proportion of global shipping tonnage covered by the treaty to 53.28% with 53 contracting parties.

The BMW Convention is scheduled to enter into force on 8 September 2017 after it was ratified last month, when Finland brought the total tonnage of contracting states to 35.14%, passing the 35% threshold needed for the convention to be ratified before coming into force 12 months later.

Panama is the largest flag state globally in terms of tonnage with 18.02% of world merchant shipping tonnage.

The BMW Convention will require ships to manage their ballast water which will help prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species, which can cause havoc for local ecosystems, affect biodiversity and lead to substantial economic loss.

Lim Ki-tack, secretary general of IMO, welcomed the latest accession by Panama and urged countries which have not yet ratified the treaty to do so as soon as possible.

“I am heartened by the fact we now have more than half of the world merchant shipping tonnage signed up to this treaty, which will not only minimize the risk of invasions by alien species via ballast water, it will also provide a global level playing field for international shipping, setting clear and robust standards for the management of ballast water on ships,” Lim said.

Jorge Barakat Pitty, Panama’s minister of maritime affairs, commented: “This instrument will be of vital importance in continuing to demonstrate the commitment of the maritime sector to preserving the environment.”

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