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Ballast water: a reprieve is just a reprieve

The world is fast growing tired of the shipping sector’s excuses over Ballast Water Management Convention compliance. Owners and operators must get a move on

A TWO-YEAR reprieve has been granted for compliance with the Ballast Water Management Convention, giving some vessels until 2024 to fully comply.

The International Maritime Organization member states voted through the amendment despite concerns that it could cause confusion over the implementation date for some stakeholders and raised questions (read: eyebrows) over the IMO’s competence as a global standards-setting authority.

The decision could especially deal a blow to system providers that have been anticipating the convention for years. Owners are already expected to delay system installations as much as possible.

There were some pretty strong arguments for making the extension, including a lack of viable technology and retrofitting space at the world’s shipyards.

The jury is still out as to whether many of the world’s older vessels will be able to fit a BWM system on board, or whether the costs of doing so will force them into the scrap yards.

Much of the dry bulk fleet, for example, would fail to meet the original deadline, industry association Intercargo has been saying for some time.

But not everyone will be happy with the extension.

It will hurt early adopters that chose to invest in ballast water management systems. This includes shipowners, BWMS providers and manufacturers, classification societies and research organisations.

To an outsider, the failure to act on a convention that was first adopted in 2004 would seem really rather astounding. It’s not like the industry has been sideswiped by this change, after all, and the negative effects of invasive species on natural seawater habitats are well documented.

Hand-wringing over the slow progress of technology and subsequent system type approval process will only go so far. Now we have the extension, owners and operators must get a move on and comply.

The world is fast growing tired of the shipping sector’s excuses.

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