March 2, 2009
Global Industry Alliance tackles ballast water problems
A Global Industry Alliance (GIA) that includes four major maritime companies --APL, BP Shipping, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, and Vela Marine International --hopes to come up with solutions to tackle the problems caused by the transfer of nuisance species via ships' ballast water.
The GIA was launched today at the International Maritime Organization's London headquarters. Its other members are IMO, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Other ship operators have also already shown an interest in joining.
IMO reckons that an estimated 10 billion tonnes of ballast water are being carried around the globe each year, and more than 3,000 species of plants and animals are being transferred daily. A serious environmental threat has resulted from the introduction of alien aquatic plants and animals to new ecosystems that may not be able to deal with them. The damage is costing the world billions of dollars--an often cited example being huge costs of the control and cleaning of underwater structures and pipelines following the introduction of the zebra mussel (dreissena polymorpha) in the Great Lakes.
The international community has responded by developing a regulatory framework for ballast water management that saw the adoption by IMO Member States, in 2004, of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments. This stipulates that all ships should be equipped with ballast water management systems to meet the ballast water performance standards, by the year 2016. This makes it essential that by that date the current technology hurdles are overcome, and effective management solutions have been scale tested and installed.
The Global Industry Alliance will contribute to research and development of cost effective ballast water treatment technologies that can be fitted onboard ships. It will also help explore new ship design options such as "flow thru" ballast tanks and "ballast-free" ships. The alliance aims to promote the transfer and spreading of technology within the industry by providing a means for ballast water information exchange, developing training tools targeted at the maritime industry and establishing a forum for industry dialogue.
A GIA Fund established through annual membership contribution by the GIA industry partners will provide the necessary financial resources for the GIA to implement selected projects.
The agreement forming the GIA was initiated by GloBallast Partnerships --a joint initiative founded by IMO, UNDP and GEF. The alliance is hosted by IMO in London.