The International Convention for the Control and Management
of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, originally signed in 2004, enters into
force today 8 September 2017. The Baltic Sea coastal countries are well
prepared for this major milestone, as they have cooperated on technical details
of its regional implementation within HELCOM for over a decade.
Round goby. Photo: Žilvinas Pūtys
Ships' ballast water, routinely taken on by ships for stability
and structural integrity, may carry alien species which are harmful to the
marine ecosystems and biodiversity in many ways, especially in fragile marine
areas such as the Baltic Sea. The subject of the Convention, safe management of
ships' ballast water, has a major role in preventing this route of spreading
Based on latest HELCOM data, 14 new non-indigenous species
have appeared in the Baltic Sea for the first time during 2011–2015, with over
130 introductions in total since the 19th century.
"The entry into force of the Ballast Water Management
Convention is a major step for the whole world but naturally also for the
Baltic Sea region. It will also put the results of our intensive regional
preparations to a real test. However, I am confident that with all their
expertise and the work done so far, the relevant HELCOM groups are well
prepared to support to any relevant implementation issues emerging during the
next years.” says Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM Executive Secretary.
Immediately after signature of the Convention in 2004, following
the pioneering work within the Baltic Sea scientific community and the
international developments around the Convention at IMO, the HELCOM Maritime
Working Group started substantial joint work in this field by establishing a
dedicated Ballast Water Correspondence Group under the lead of Finland.
Since this start, the coastal countries of the Baltic Sea
have co-operated within HELCOM, as well as together with other regional seas
cooperation structures like OSPAR, on a number of specific issues around the
foreseen implementation of the Ballast Water Convention in the Baltic Sea
Even if the core work is carried out at the International
Maritime Organisation (IMO), this kind of supportive region-specific cooperation
on implementation is foreseen by the Ballast Water Convention itself (Article
Examples of concrete output from the preparatory regional cooperation
within HELCOM include a comprehensive harmonised implementation procedure on
exemptions (Reg. A-4 of the Convention) with a related risk assessment website, released in
a renewed form this autumn; a series of regional recommendations concerning
ballast water exchange (BWM.2/Circ.14, BWM.2/Circ.22, and BWM.2/Circ.39); as
well as keeping up-to-date on new invasions by a dedicated regional
Since 2012, the core technical work has been carried out
within a dedicated intergovernmental task group – the Joint HELCOM-OSPAR Task
Group on Ballast Water Management Convention Exemptions (HELCOM/OSPAR TG
BALLAST) – formed by the participating countries and representatives of the
shipping industry and NGOs.
Over the years, several HELCOM projects have supported this
intergovernmental dialogue with substantial input, starting from the GEF funded
Baltic Sea regional project (2003–2007). The latest of these is the project
“COMPLETE” which will further develop the regional implementation during 2017–2019,
with HELCOM involvement and co-funding from the EU Interreg programme.
As one of the latest developments, a new roadmap for
regional implementation of the outstanding issues on Ballast Water Convention
in the Baltic Sea was adopted in December 2016 by the HELCOM Heads of
Delegation (HOD), replacing the completed HELCOM roadmap from 2007.
The upcoming meetings of the HELCOM Maritime working group
(10–12 October 2017, St.Petersburg) and HELCOM/OSPAR TG BALLAST (16–17 November
2017, Helsinki) will provide opportunities to consider substantial issues
related to the implementation of the Ballast Water Convention in the Baltic Sea
region. This includes following up on the progress on ratifying the BWM
Convention by the remaining coastal countries.
Full convention text (PDF)
Summary of convention text
IMO Briefing 8 September 2016: Global treaty to haltinvasive aquatic species to enter into force in 2017
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Note for editors:
During the last decade shipping has steadily increased in
the Baltic Sea, reflecting intensifying co-operation and economic prosperity
around the region. At the same time, increasing maritime transportation
threatens fragile ecosystems and the livelihoods of the many people who depend
on the sea.
HELCOM Maritime Working Group identifies and promotes
actions to limit sea-based pollution and finds ways for safer navigation.
Established in 1975, the group also deals with the harmonized implementation
and enforcement of international shipping regulations.
HELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the
nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its
primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the
Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime
navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki Convention.
For more information, please contact:
Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Fish groups
Tel: +358 46 8509199