May 26 ------ The Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) — an important international treaty which helps prevent the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species by ships — now covers more than 90 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage. The news comes after China extended the treaty to Hong Kong. On 13 May, China notified the International Maritime Organization (IMO) about the extension of the BWM Convention to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, with effect from 13 August 2020. Ships flagged to Hong Kong, China — the fourth largest flag administration in the world by shipping tonnage — will now have to apply the requirements of the treaty.
The BWM Convention aims to protect marine ecosystems by requiring ships to manage their ballast water so that harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location. This helps prevent the spread of invasive species – as well as potentially harmful pathogens. The international treaty entered into force in 2017 and now has 83 signatories, representing 90.98 per cent of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping, up from 81.83 per cent previously.
Last year, BWMC amendments also entered into force, formalizing the implementation schedule for the transition from the D-1 to the D‑2 standard aimed at ensuring that viable organisms are not released into new sea areas. Since the entry into force requirements for the treaty were met in September 2016, there have been some 30 ratifications, with the percentage of world merchant shipping tonnage covered increasing considerably, from 35.14 per cent to 90.98 per cent.