DECEMBER 4, 2013 — IMO's 28th Assembly, meeting in London from November 25 to December 24, has adopted a resolution on the application of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004;
According to tanker owners' group INTERTANKO, the resolution pins the application dates of the Ballast Water Management Convention to the entry into force date. This in effect makes all vessels constructed before the entry into force date "existing" vessels, and allows for the installation of a ballast water management system (BWMS) on such vessels at the first renewal survey following entry into force. At present 38 countries representing 30.3% of the world's registered tonnage have ratified the convention. The convention will enter into force 12 months after the ratification by more than 35 countries representing more than 35% of the world's tonnage.
All of this is more or less of academic interest to owners of ships wishing to discharge ballast in U.S. waters who will have to meet with the compliance dates for installation of ballast water management systems set by U.S. regulations.
Be that as it may, INTERTANKO is hailing the assembly resolution as "a major step in making the implementation of the international convention workable once it comes into force."
INTERTANKO's Managing Director, Ms. Katharina Stanzel, comments, "The resolution provides the industry with a practical and clear implementation process and INTERTANKO urges all Member States to adhere to this new schedule."
INTERTANKO's Senior Manager – Environment, Tim Wilkins adds, "We welcome this very positive development and look forward to making sure the type approval process for ballast water management systems provides ship owners with reliable equipment."
In 2012, INTERTANKO led the submission of a paper to the IMO's Marine Environment and Protection Committee (MEPC), drawing the attention of the IMO's Member States to potential problems of implementing the requirements of the convention and proposing that the implementation schedule be reviewed and revised.
Many of the implementation dates originally written in the convention have already passed, and meaning that once the convention entered force, the period for installation would be extremely short, with several thousand ships a year needing to install ballast water management systems.