The BW Convention will have a significant impact on ships engaged in international trade, requiring them to manage their ballast water and sediments to certain minimum standards and to install onboard ballast water management systems. In Belgium, the convention has been implemented by the Royal Decree of 11 august 2017, however this decree also implements regulations outside the application of the BW Convention.
In the past few years, ships have discharged their ballast water mainly in the harbour where they arrived. However, scientific research has revealed that these actions can cause a lot of damage to the local fauna and flora, a direct consequence of the biodiversity between the different oceans around the world.
Both the IMO Convention and the Belgian Royal Decree provide regulations to eliminate the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through ships' ballast water and sediments. These regulations imply the following changes voor Belgian flagged seagoing vessels;
- I. Each vessel has to implement a Ballast Water Management Plan, which has to be on board of all Belgian flagged seagoing vessels. This Plan has to be approved by the Belgian Federal Public Service of Mobility. In this respect, it is mandatory that the officers and crew members are familiar with the Ballast Water Management Plan.
- II. Also a Ballast Water Record Book in English, Spanish or French will be required on board of every vessel. It is possible to create an electronic record system or to integrate it into another record book or system.
- III. Additional measures are covered by the Annexes of the Belgian Royal Decree.
The civil servants responsible for traffic monitoring will determine if vessels' ballast water management conforms with the regulations. These control officers will establish appropriate measures for vessels that are not affected by these regulations.
The harmonization that IMO has accomplished with this Convention can be considered as a leap forward in the protection of oceans and nature in general.
Entire text of the Royal Decree: link
Entire text of the ballast water convention: link
If you want more information / advice on the BWC, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.