A group of government lawyers drawn primarily from the Ministries of Justice, Health, Foreign Affairs and Transport as well as from the Maritime Authority, Port Authority and NEPA, discussed the legal issues related to the public health and other risks posed by invasive species transported in ships’ ballast water at a recent workshop on the legal implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention, hosted by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica.
In addressing the participants Dr. Dayne Buddo of the Centre for Marine Sciences, University of the West Indies, Discovery Bay Marine Lab, whose research has identified the presence of the Indo-Asian green mussel in the Kingston harbour, stated that “Jamaica’s coastal waters have been and continues to be vulnerable to marine bio-invasions. Public health risk pose by ballast water include cholera, heavy metals, toxic marine algae etc. that are a threat to human health. These are transmitted through consumption of seafood.”
The lawyers also discussed a recent case in the USA where a shipping company was fined 2.7M, and its fleet of 20 vessels banned for 3 years for one its vessels failing to comply with the ballast water management regulations, an indication of the magnitude of the problem which has led to the collapse of the fishing industry in Iran and the Great lakes and caused shellfish poisoning in other countries.
Other issues discussed included having ships and in particular bulk cargo vessels exchanging their ballast water outside Jamaican territorial waters and providing evidence of compliance with this activity.
The Maritime Authority of Jamaica, which is the focal point locally for the IMO, is leading Jamaica’s multi-agency task force which will guide the process leading to Jamaica’s accession to the Convention.