Jamaica to lead regional task force on ballast water
Bertrand Smith, the head of the Jamaican Maritime Authority, has been elected to chair the 25-country Caribbean regional task force on ballast water control measures following an international meeting of maritime and environmental interests in Panama, the agency said.
The main purpose of the task force is to establish a uniform policy and legal framework for implementing the International Maritime Organization's Ballast Water Management Convention. Untreated ballast water is a primary means for spreading invasive plant and animal species around the world.
An estimated 10 billion tons of ballast water are carried around the globe each year in ships. The introduction of alien aquatic plants and animals to new ecosystems that may not be able to deal with the imported species is causing serious environmental damage. It is estimated that more than 7,000 species of plants and animals are transferred daily. Efforts to contain or eliminate invasive species after the fact are a significant cost for governments.
The convention requires ships to implement a ballast water and sediment management plan and implement ballast water treatment procedures that meet minimum standards. The convention has not entered into force yet, but many countries have already adopted its standards.
Leading scientists will convene at the World Maritime University in Sweden in January for a week-long series of meetings on ways to manage ballast water on vessels. ' Eric Kulisch