Ballast Water Management Convention will enter into force next year

Finland is likely to ratify the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) tomorrow, which would mean the long-debated convention would enter into force in 12 months’ time on September 8, 2017.

Finland accounts for 0.14% of the world’s gross tonnage, which would take the convention over the 35% threshold required for the policy to enter into force, the International Chamber of Shipping’s (ICS) technical director Jonathan Spremulli told the annual ICS conference in London today.

Peter Hinchliffe, the Chamber’s secretary-general, added that he ha spoke to the IMO’s legal director Fred Kenney on Tuesday and “he has already done the number-crunching” required to verify Finland’s percentage of the world’s registered gross tonnage.

The convention currently has 50 signatories representing 34.87% of the world’s gross tonnage.

Panama also looks likely to ratify the BWMC “within the next one to two months”, Spremulli told delegates.

With adoption so near, much work remains to be done on how shipowners can meet the requirements of the convention – and when.

Spremulli said that completion of the revised G8 guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems was one of the ICS’s top priorities. The existing guidelines were adopted in 2008.

Once the kinks in systems approval have been ironed out, the equipment will need to be retrofitted on many vessels within a relatively short space of time, which will present its own problems.

Spremulli said the Liberian registry recently presented data to the IMO that showed there will be a shortfall of dockyard capacity for fitting of ballast water management systems onboard between 1,900 to 3,000 vessels in 2020.

Questions also remain as to the deadline by which vessels will be required to comply with the convention – currently a deadline of 12 months after a vessel’s oil pollution prevention (IOPP) service is being talked about, but this could be extended, Spremulli said.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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