The Convention is designed to to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species in ships’ ballast water.
It requires ships to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments, stated the IMO.
“This is a landmark step towards halting the spread of invasive aquatic species, which can cause havoc for local ecosystems, affect biodiversity and lead to substantial economic loss,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.
Invasive species are causing enormous damage to biodiversity and can effect health, Lim added, while enforceable global regulations also provide a level playing field for international shipping.
IMO explains that initially there will be two different standards for BWM as follows: The D-1 standard requires ships to exchange their ballast water in open seas, away from coastal waters. Ideally, this means at least 200nm from land and in water at least 200m deep.
D-2 is a performance standard which specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, including specified indicator microbes harmful to human health.
New ships must meet the D-2 standard from today while existing ships must initially meet the D-1 standard. An implementation timetable for the D-2 standard has been agreed, based on the date of the ship's International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPPC) renewal survey, which must be undertaken at least every five years.
Eventually, all ships will have to conform to the D-2 standard, which for most ships will involve installing special equipment.