A landmark decision by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for new regulations
to curtail the spread of harmful aquatic species carried in ships’ ballast water has earned accolades from the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the organization representing public ports throughout the Western Hemisphere. The announcement came last week during a diplomatic conference to finalize the international treaty, which had been ten years in the making.
While 30 countries must ratify the new IMO treaty
before it can be enforced, AAPA is optimistic it will lead to a U.S. Coast Guard certification program for ballast water treatment technologies. For years AAPA has publicly advocated for a strong national and international regulatory regime to reduce the potential for ecological and economic damage that can result from aquatic nuisance species
"Because ballast water management is a key concern of U.S. port authorities, many have been actively involved in ballast water education programs
and treatment demonstration projects," said Nagle. "The port industry wholeheartedly applauds the important action IMO has taken on the issue. Now we eagerly await the next big step – the development of a mandatory national ballast water management program, as AAPA has long urged."
Thousands of marine species may be found in the 80 million tons of ship ballast water discharged in U.S. waters each year. While IMO member countries adopted a voluntary program of ballast water management guidelines in 1997 to prevent the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens, under the new treaty all ships will be required to implement a ballast water and sediments management plan and recordkeeping system.