Prevention of Aquatic Invasive Species – The importance of the Ballast Water Management Convention

Ballast water is responsible for a great number of species brought into the region. It is used during a ship’s voyage to provide stability and maneuverability to the vessel. Ballast water supports the weight of the vessel, by allowing the ship or vessels to pass under bridges or other structures, it is held in cargo holds and ballast tanks.

This is a problem as invasive species can unknowingly be transported or released through water in many ports while delivering cargo. The introduction of aquatic invasive species is why ballast water is a high-risk vector for invasive alien species introduction.

The Ballast Water Management Convention is a treaty adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to prevent the spread of potentially harmful pathogens and aquatic organisms in a ship’s ballast water. It became a standard regulation from September 8, 2017, for all ships to manage their ballast water as to render or remove harmless ballast water before it is released into a new location.

Currently, all Caribbean countries in the sub-region sans Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, have signed the Ballast Water Management Convention.

Source: – USDA – International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Prevention and Management of Marine Invasive Alien Species in the Caribbean – Policy Brief