Mr. Bertrand Smith, Legal Director at the Maritime Authority of Jamaica and Chair of the National Ballast Water Management Task Force, was, on March 24, 2010 a special guest at Jamaica’s Shipping Industry Agents Committee meeting held at the Shipping Association of Jamaica, to present information on the threats and mitigation measures regarding Ballast Water.
Mr. Smith noted that “this was a welcome opportunity to speak with the ships’ agents. Jamaica has a national task force that is spearheading preparations for Jamaica’s ratification of the Ballast Water Management Convention, and one of the major activities is the sensitization and education of persons in the industry about the dangers posed by improper management of ballast water.”
Mr. Smith further explained that ships’ agents are an important link between ship owners and local authorities and are best placed to ensure that national laws and policies are promulgated among ship owners and managers and that these are adhered to when a vessel enters national boundaries. Issues discussed included voluntary reporting by ships of their ballast water management activities and the sampling of their ballast water, both of which are part of the national strategy to minimise the risks associated with the invasive aquatic species in ballast water.
Ballast Water is water taken up by a ship to ensure, inter alia, the stability of a ship when it is unladen (not carrying cargo) or partially laden. Water is taken up in one port and released in another as the ship loads cargo. As such invasive aquatic species may be transported from one country to the next, one part of the world to another and this disrupts the balance of marine ecosytems, at times leading to the collapse of fisheries, public health risks and economic costs associated with increased maintenance of fouled pipes used by power companies to cool their plants.