Ballast Water Discharge Regulated

The BWM Convention aims to control the transfer of potentially invasive species through ballast water discharge
Ballast water could potentially introduce a new invasive marine species.
Ballast water could potentially introduce a new invasive marine species.

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (also known as Ballast Water Management Convention, or BWM Convention) has come into force in Iran since Sept. 9 following its global enforcement on Sept. 8.

Ballast water is water kept in a tank to provide stability for a vessel. The water can contain thousands of aquatic or marine microbes, plants and animals, which are then carried across the globe. Untreated ballast water released at the ship’s destination could potentially introduce a new invasive marine species, sometimes with devastating consequences for the local ecosystem.

The BWM Convention was adopted in 2004 to introduce global regulations to control the transfer of potentially invasive species. Under the treaty, ballast water needs to be treated before it is released into a new location, so that any microorganisms are killed off.

The convention includes technical standards and requirements for party states.

Parties to the convention are given the option of taking additional measures that are subject to criteria set out in the convention and to guidelines of the International Maritime Organization.

Iran joined the convention in 2011.

  Only Mideast Signatory

According to Parvin Farshchi, the deputy head of marine environment at the Department of Environment, Iran is the only country in the region to sign the international treaty.

"Iran Ports and Maritime Organization is the reference entity for the adoption of the convention and has close cooperation with DOE in this regard," she was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Based on the guidelines, all ships are required to discharge their ballast water in mid-ocean (within a minimum distance of 200 miles (322 km) from the coast) as an intermediate solution. PMO is in charge of monitoring the process.

However, eventually all ships will be required to install an on-board ballast water treatment system.

"Modern vessels are already equipped with the system, but old ships are given a two-year time-limit to install the equipment," she said.

Also, DOE is tasked with collecting and testing samples of ballast water for non-native species as well as possible oil pollution.

According to Farshchi, the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman, through which some 40,000 vessels transit annually, are among the main bodies of water susceptible to the negative impacts of ballast water discharge.

Over 1,600 species of fish (about 500 in the Persian Gulf and 142 in the Oman Sea) live in the two southern waters of Iran.

The biodiversity includes 15 species of shrimp, 10 mammal species, five turtle species, more than 90 bird species and a wide variety of planktons. 

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