Drafting of Ballast Water Guidelines underway at MEPC

Following the adoption of the International Convention on Harmful Aquatic Organisms in February this year, the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) has now been tasked with the development of thirteen guidelines to assist in the uniform implementation of the Convention.

With the entry into force date for the Convention being 2009, and with so many sets of guidelines to be developed, the working group on ballast water focused primarily on the administration of the guidelines to ensure that the most important ones were completed and circulated by 2009.

Of particular interest to the industry are the following guidelines:

  • Guidelines for the approval of Ballast Water Management Systems
  • Guidelines for Sampling of Ballast Water and Analysis for PortState Control
  • Ballast Water Management Plan Guidelines
  • Guidelines for Ballast Water Exchange
  • Guidelines for Ballast Water Exchange Design and Construction Standards
  • Guidelines for Sediment control on Ships

A correspondence group has been set up to work intersessionaly on these guidelines. An important aspect of its work is to review the ballast water management technologies prior to the entry into force of the Convention. A caveat in the Convention ensures that the IMO must review whether adequate technology is available to meet the standards that are specified in the Convention. Under the requirements of the Convention, this review work is to be completed two years before entry into force of the Convention (ie in 2007).

As well as the establishment of a correspondence group, the Committee also agreed to hold an extra meeting prior to the next MEPC meeting in October this year. Industry and states alike have been invited to contribute technical expertise to the development of these guidelines. INTERTANKO’s Environmental Committee will be invited to review the guidelines, with other more technical aspects also being reviewed by ISTEC.

Contact: Tim Wilkins