Shipowners mustn’t delay investment in ballast water management, says UK P&I Club

London: Shipowners risk being caught out if they fail to invest in fitting ballast water management systems on vessels before the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 (BWMC) enters into force, the UK P&I Club has advised.

The IMO has proposed delaying the implementation of sanctions for a trial period of between two to three years once the convention comes into force, rather than delaying the date on which the convention will enter into force.

“Delaying entry into force will discourage manufacturers from continuing to invest in advancing the necessary technology in this field,” Jacqueline Tan, senior claims executive at the UK P&I Club, said today in a statement.

A ship will need to comply with the BWMC on its first International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPP) renewal survey after the convention enters into force.

“It is estimated that some 57,000 ships will need to comply,” Tan continued. “Assuming a maximum of 40 ships can be retrofitted a day, it will take nearly four years for all the retrofitting to be completed.

The process of selecting and then installing a BWM system can take up to a year, which could delay owners’ ability to comply with the convention if they do not act soon, the UK P&I Club says.

“Worryingly, we are aware that a number of shipowners have yet to take even the first steps towards complying with this Convention,” Tan said.

“As spaces in the major shipyards are already all booked up, there is real possibility of serious bottlenecks occurring,” she continued. “Ships that fail to comply on time will face serious commercial disadvantages, as their trading limits will be severely restricted.

“The UK P&I Club’s message to its members is not to delay any further but to take steps now to ensure compliance with the convention is timely,” Tan said.

Currently, the convention has been ratified by 44 states worldwide, representing 32.86% of the requisite 35% of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage.

The full 35% ratification is expected to be achieved soon, after which the BWMC will enter into force 12 months later.

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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