World Maritime University to Host Ballast Water Week in January 2010

Leading scientific experts engaged in the fight against alien species transported in ships’ ballast water will come together in January 2010 at the World Maritime University (WMU) in Sweden, in a week-long series of ballast water management-related meetings.

The event will be jointly organized by the GloBallast Partnerships Programme (funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and IMO), IMO’s Global Industry Alliance for Marine Biosecurity (GIA) and WMU.

An estimated 10 billion tonnes of ballast water, often containing marine animal and plant species, are carried around the globe each year in ships. As a result, a serious environmental threat has developed, caused by the introduction of alien aquatic plants and animals to new ecosystems that may not be able to deal with the imported species. It is estimated that more than 7,000 species of plants and animals are transferred daily. As well as the environmental harm, the damage done by these alien species is costing the world massive sums of money.

The first Global Research and Development (R&D) Forum on Emerging Ballast Water Management Systems will bring together maritime industry, academia and technology development leaders in the field of ships’ ballast water management for a comprehensive overview of this rapidly expanding area of research and development and technology commercialization. The Forum will be held at WMU, in Malmö, Sweden, from 27 to 29 January 2010.

Earlier, on 24-25 January, the first Global Expert Forum on Ballast Water Treatment Test Facility Harmonization will bring together all the major ballast water treatment test facility operators to discuss the latest in technology-testing approaches and the need for harmonization. This represents a proactive effort, by IMO, to establish efficient and comparable systems testing as part of the approval process for ballast water management systems, under the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention), which was adopted by the Organization in 2004.

The BWM convention aims to prevent the potentially devastating effects of the spread of harmful aquatic organisms carried by ships’ ballast water by requiring ships to implement a Ballast Water and Sediments Management Plan and carry out ballast water management procedures to a given standard. Although the convention has not yet entered into force[1], a number of ballast water management systems which meet the standards set out in the convention have already been approved by national Administrations. Comprehensive guidelines on the approval process for such systems have been adopted by IMO.

The two global fora are the first such international events supported by IMO’s GIA , an innovative public-private sector partnership established under the umbrella of the GloBallast Partnerships Programme. The GIA currently comprises four founding members (APL, BP Shipping, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, and Vela Marine International).

“The Global Industry Alliance is a way for the shipping industry to join hands in removing some of the barriers preventing us from fulfilling our responsibilities under the Ballast Water Management Convention” said Captain Tey Yoh Huat, Vice President, Technical Services, APL and Chair of the GIA Industry Task Force.

“We all have the same goal: to make sure that the shipping industry can continue providing the high-quality services expected, with minimal impact on the marine environment. As the week of meetings in Malmö will illustrate, the GIA can play a crucial, catalytic role in this process,” he said.

During that week, WMU will also host a workshop (on 26 January 2010) to discuss the outcomes of a major study, sponsored by the GIA, that provides a first review of the scientific basis for establishing environmental equivalency between traditional treatment systems, such as those using mechanical, physical and chemical treatment of ballast water, and emerging alternative concepts. The development of guidelines for establishing such equivalency is expected to remove the last barriers against new and innovative ideas coming to the market to complement current treatment-based technologies.

Additionally, WMU will host, on 29-30 January, the European Union-supported Ballast Water Opportunity project’s first annual conference. WMU is one of the leading partners in the project and the GloBallast Partnerships Programme is an affiliated partner.

“This year's ballast water R&D Forum is particularly timely, as advances in basic and applied research in this field are rapidly bringing new, innovative ideas in ballast water management closer to the market.” said Forum Co-Chair Dr. Olof Lindén, Professor of Marine Environment Management at WMU. “In addition to the exponential growth in R&D activities related to ballast water management, we are also seeing increased interest from the business and venture capital sectors seeking to turn the results of that research to real-world uses.”

The potential market for ballast water technologies is huge, with some 60,000 merchant ships of over 400 gross tonnage engaged in international trade.

R&D Forum information

The R&D Forum at WMU will cover topics related to regulatory and technical aspects of emerging ballast water management concepts; progress on conventional treatment technologies; progress in testing; verification and monitoring of ballast water; and perspectives from the maritime industry; operational experiences and, notably, experience from IMO’s technology-approval procedures covering more than 35 technologies.

Keynote speakers from IMO, academia and the R&D community will be addressing the Forum, including Mr. Dandu Pughiuc (Head, Biosafety Section, IMO), Professor Michael Parsons (University of Michigan), Dr. Tim Bowmer (Chairman of GESAMP), Captain Graham Greensmith (Lloyd’s Register), Captain Tey Yoh Huat (Chairman of the GIA Industry Task Force), Dr. Marcel Veldhuis (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research) and Mr. Iver Iversen (Wilhelmsen Ships Equipment AS).

The Organizers

The World Maritime University (WMU) was established in 1983 by the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations specialized agency. Its mission is to serve the global maritime community as a centre of excellence and IMO’s apex institution for high-level maritime education and research. For more information, please visit http://www.wmu.se.

The GEF-UNDP-IMO GloBallast Partnerships Programme aims to assist countries to reduce the risk of aquatic bio-invasions mediated by ships’ ballast water and sediments. For more information, please visit http://globallast.imo.org.

The Global Industry Alliance (GIA) is an innovative public-private sector partnership between the GloBallast Partnership Programme and leading maritime companies. Current partners include APL, BP Shipping, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, and Vela Marine International. The GIA has been created to catalyze innovation and change in the field of ballast water management, while providing business benefits for the industry. For more information, please visit http://globallast.imo.org.

Ballast Water Opportunity is a project of the North Sea Region (NSR) Programme of the European Regional Development Fund aiming to support NSR industries to enter the market for innovative products. For more information, please visit www.northseaballast.eu

Additional Information

For more information on the Forum, see www.wmu.se or contact the GloBallast Partnerships Programme Coordination Unit, Mr. Robert Macciochi, rmaccioc@imo.org.
Briefing 45, 14 December 2009

For further information please contact:

Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 (media@imo.org )
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (media@imo.org).