The IMO's Ballast Water Management Convention was probably one of the most tensely awaited pieces of marine environmental legislation in over a decade and its ratification in September was greeted with mixed emotions.
Many were overjoyed that a legislative framework for tackling the unintended transportation of invasive species around the world's oceans, which they considered to be desperately overdue, was finally on its way to the statute books. Vessels owners and bodies representing the international shipping community, however, gave a more equivocal response.
While generally welcoming the decision for setting a definite timetable for the new rules, liberating them from a regulatory limbo that was delaying investment decisions, it means they must now face up to the practical challenges of implementation. And despite a prolonged wait for ratification, the indications are a good number are woefully unprepared.
Join the discussion
As part of fulfilling its wider objective of ensuring safe and sustainable use of our oceans, the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST) is gearing up to hold a special two-day event on 12-13 January 2017 at IMO headquarters in London. The event is focused on answering the unanswered questions related to the impending regulation and hopefully providing some sound solutions to some of the challenges facing the community.
"As well as the technical measures ship owners and operators need to take, such as the selection of the appropriate treatment system and its application and fitting, there are a number of remaining scientific and technical questions that need to urgently be addressed," explained IMarEST Technical Director, Dr Bev MacKenzie, who was instrumental in planning the event.
A different approach
The IMarEST's 6th Ballast Water Technology will have a distinctly different flavour this year - and not only because the Convention has finally been ratified.
"We wanted to modify the format that has become so prevalent at industry conferences and instead take a more question-based and participatory approach that really draws delegates into the conversation and helps them really contribute to solving some of these problems," explains MacKenzie.
To that end, the event, taking place at IMO's London headquarters in January, blends a call-for-papers technical and scientific conference with panel sessions and discussion periods, as well as providing ample networking opportunities.
A taster of the programme
Among the confirmed keynote speakers, Dr Marcel Veldhius from MEA-NL will explore how Port State Control might check onboard documentation and, when necessary, sample discharge water. Effective policing is crucial to the Convention's success, he will argue.
Marcie Merksamer, EnviroManagement Inc, will consider the evolving and interminably complex world of treatment system testing and approval. She will analyse the interplay between the IMO framework and those of the US Coast Guard, classification societies and flag states themselves.
Dr David Wright from Environmental Research Services will argue that direct sampling of discharge water from every vessel in SOLAS fleet is impractical and that a risk-based approach is a better way forward, drawing on lessons in combatting other pollution types.
Informing policy and legislation
After the event closes, IMarEST will work with the delegates to produce a series “how-to” documents based on the submitted papers taking into account points raised during the discussions. To further ensure the outcomes are put to good use, where appropriate, these will be submitted by IMarEST to the relevant committee or sub-committee of the IMO.
"In this sense, delegates have a real opportunity to help shape how this legislation can be practicably implemented. No other ballast water conference offers such a unique opportunity to feed directly into the technical, scientific and practical discussion on the Convention's implementation," remarked MacKenzie.
This 6th IMarEST Ballast Water Technology Conference will take place 12-13 January 2017 at IMO headquarters in London - register here.