Ballast Water Management
Australia is reliant on the shipping industry for trade both internationally and domestically, with approximately 95 per cent of Australia's commodities being transported by sea. Each year around 150 million tonnes of ships' ballast water is discharged into Australian ports by 10,000 ship visits from some 600 overseas ports. Most shipping into Australia arrives from the northern Pacific area, with the greatest volume of ballast water being discharged by bulk carriers. The environmental and economic impacts of a marine pest introduction via ships' ballast water have been recognised and can be significant.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) is leading the implementation of National Ballast Water Management Arrangements under the Australian National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions. The objective of the Ballast Water Management Arrangements is to manage any adverse economic, environmental and social impacts of exotic marine species by reducing the risk of their introduction, establishment and spread in the Australian marine environment from ships' ballast water. The Deparment, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), and industry are closely involved in the implementation the Ballast Water Management Arrangements to ensure that they do not unduly impede trade or compromise ship safety.
The Ballast Water Management Arrangements aim to ensure Australia has consistent international and domestic ballast water management controls in place to reduce the risk of introducing a marine invasive species into Australia's unique marine environment.
Further information on the development of the National Ballast Water Management Arrangements is available on the DAFF website.
The Department participates in international forums concerned with ballast water management, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forums.
Australia took a leading role in seeking international measures to reduce the risks posed by the introduction of marine pests via a ship's ballast water, first raising it at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 1991. Since then the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), together with the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and other technical sub-committees within IMO have developed the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (the Convention). The Convention was adopted by the IMO in February 2004 and aims to provide uniform international ballast water management arrangements for the shipping industry and protect the marine environment from pest incursions.
Australia signed the Convention, subject to ratification, in May 2005 and as a signatory is obliged to refrain from actions that would defeat the object and purpose of the Convention.
Australian Government departments and agencies are currently progressing the legislative and administrative changes necessary to give effect to the Convention in Australia. The National Ballast Water Management Arrangements that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Department and other Australian Government, state and territory departments are in the process of implementing is an important step towards Australian ratification of the Convention.
The Convention will enter into force 12 months after it is adopted by 30 States, representing at least 35 percent of world merchant shipping tonnage.
Further information on this Convention can be found on the IMO website: International Maritime Organization