Last week, IMO (International Maritime Organization) organized a regional workshop (20-21 March) and meeting (22-23 March) in Kappara, Malta, to promote the development of coordinated action throughout the Mediterranean Sea region to prevent and control marine biological invasions via ships’ ballast water.
Ballast Water Management (BWM) Strategy for the Mediterranean Sea (2022-2027), 28 government officials (Albania, Croatia, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia and Türkiye) from across the Mediterranean region learnt about actions each country in the region should take to ratify, implement and enforce the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (elivered within the framework of the BWM Convention). The Mediterranean BWM Strategy was adopted by the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention).
Key outcomes from the workshop were increased awareness and understanding of the ratification, implementation and enforcement process of the BWM Convention, its compliance monitoring and enforcement elements, as well as a bigger network of trained experts in ballast water management and control.
The Convention, which entered into force in 2017, aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms in ships’ ballast water from one region to another. It does so by requiring all ships in international traffic to manage their ballast water and sediments to a certain standard, according to a ship-specific management plan. All ships must also carry a ballast water record book and an international ballast water management certificate.
The main focus of the workshop and meeting was a review by the countries present, supported by IMO’s Theofanis Karayannis and Megan Jensen, of the draft harmonized procedures for ballast water management in the Mediterranean region.
Draft regional harmonized procedures for the uniform implementation of the BWM Convention in the Mediterranean Sea region were reviewed. They will be updated to reflect the outcome of discussions in Malta before being submitted to a REMPEC Focal Points meeting due to be held in June. These are procedures which reflect IMO guidelines, namely the BWM Convention, and would be implemented by Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention.
Other activities covered an introduction to ballast water management and the BWM Convention; understanding the obligations of Parties under the BWM Convention; compliance monitoring and enforcement for port State control; and risk mitigation.
The workshop was jointly organized and co-financed by IMO, through its Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP), and the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) within the framework of the United Nations Environment Programme Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP).