Ahead of the introduction of the ballast water management requirements for yachts in September of this year, Floating Life organised an educational seminar for captains and the industry.
Host Andrea Pezzini, CEO of Floating Life, was joined by Enrico Ursomando and Giorgio Gallo from RINA Academy. The seminar outlined the problems that come with emptying a ship's ballast water system, mainly that marine species - bacteria, microbes, larvae etc.- can be transferred between ecosystems as vessels travel around the world. Following over a decade of discussions and campaigns, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) introduced a new convention that outlines new procedures for all vessels to adhere to.
The RINA team provided a refreshingly candid presentation about the damage that can be inflicted on an ocean environment, which offered vital context in an industry that perhaps too often groans at the introduction of new regulations.
"In 80% of cases, the transfer is not dangerous," explained Ursomando. However, in some enclosed areas and delicate marine environments, there is a potential for entire species and ecosystems to be monumentally affected by the emptying of ballast systems with non-native pathogens. The new rules aim to protect our oceans from further destruction.
Coming into effect on 8 September 2017, the regulations must be enforced by each vessel's flag state, and thus the port state control. The confusion arises when a vessel's flag doesn't recognise or adopt the convention, but they wish to visit a port that does. In circumstances such as this, the vessel must still comply with the new ballast water regulations, despite not having a certificate from their flag state.
Interestingly, there are countries and ports that have already issued their own ballast water management requirements. Australia, for example, necessitates that all vessels must perform a ballast water exchange 12 nautical miles outside of its territorial sea. Similarly, Brazil enforces an exchange 200 nautical miles from the coat, at a minimum depth of 200m.
As with all new IMO conventions, it's vital for the industry to be informed and educated about the latest regulations to ensure total compliance. The Floating Life conference offered an opportunity for in depth discussion and industry education on a complicated matter, which aims to improve the life of our oceans.
The subject of water ballast systems and the effects of the new IMO convention will be explored in further detail in issue 180 of The Superyacht Report.