Ship surveyors, inspectors, legal officers, marine scientists and other persons responsible for maritime affairs in countries from the wider Caribbean region gathered at the Knutsford Court Hotel last week from November 14-15, 2011 to learn about the provisions of the Ballast Water Management Convention. Hosted by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), the course sought to train participants on the compliance, monitoring, and enforcement of the Convention, an instrument of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) aimed at controlling the transportation of organisms in ships’ ballast water.
Ballast water used in the stability of vessels is a potential vector for microorganisms that may cause devastating effects to a country’s biodiversity when they are introduced in an alien eco-system through the exchange and release of ballast water.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Bertrand Smith, Director of Legal Affairs at the MAJ indicated that “the wider Caribbean region accounts for a significant portion of the global fleet of international trading ships, having two of the top five ship registries and five of the top ship registries being administered by Caribbean countries. It is critical therefore that we understand our flag and port State control responsibilities and be vigilant in discharging these responsibilities as well as the obligations to develop national policies and strategies to reduce the threat of invasive species.”
Jamaica has seen the effects of ballast water with the pollution of the Kingston Harbour with the green mussel. According to Dr. Dayne Buddo of the Centre for Marine Sciences, Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory “The green mussel has ecological implications as it competes against native species for food and space leading to a reduction in biodiversity; there are also public health effects due to the accumulation of harmful constituents inside the tissue of the mussel which when consumed causes illness among humans; further there are possible economic effects due to the increase in maintenance of seawater intake systems that become clogged with mussels.”
The course was organized by the Regional Activity Centre/Regional Marine Pollution Emergency, information and Training Centre (RAC-REMPEITC) Caribe in association with the IMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Lecturers for the course were Mr. Fredrik Haag from the IMO, Mr. Raphael Braumler, International Consultant and Lecturer at the World Maritime University, Mr. Andrew Wood of RAC-REMPEITC and Lieutenant Commander Henry Tomlinson, Ship Inspector at the MAJ.