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NIMASA upholds Ballast Water Management Convention

DG of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside(Middle), in a group photograph with participants at the opening of the Regional Workshop on Ballast Water Management Convention in Lagos, Nigeria

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency
(NIMASA) has upheld the Convention on Ballast Water Management to ensure that
foreign ships do not come to pollute the nation’s marine ecosystem with invasive
species from
  their ballast water.

The ongoing regional workshop facilitated by NIMASA, is
put together as guided by the framework of Integrated Technical Cooperation
Programme of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

The workshop is meant to assist developing countries
carry out their maritime roles and standards in a harmonized manner in
accordance with IMO’s global mandate to ensure safe, secure,
environmentally-sound, efficient   and sustainable shipping though cooperation.
Speaking during the opening of the regional workshop holding
in Lagos from Monday, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said
that the IMO, in February 2004, adopted the International Convention for the
Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and sediments in order to
minimize the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens.
Peterside said that as at that time, there had been a
growing concern about the spread of invasive alien species on the marine
environment resulting from ballast water carried by ships.
He told participants that the Regional Workshop was one
way to support the timely and harmonised implementation of the Convention in
the West and Central African Sub-Region with priority and emphasis on the
ratification and implementation of the Convention by member states.
The NIMASA Boss also said that in addition, capacity building
for Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement(CME) was being done, and Port
Biological Baseline Surveys(PBBS) and risk assessments.
As one of the first five countries that have ratified
the Convention, Nigeria has done remarkably to ensure effective implementation
by; developing and gazetting of Regulations on Ballast Water Management
pursuant to the Nigerian Merchant Shipping Act, 2007; development of an
Enforcement and Implementation manual on Ships Ballast Water; development of
Guidelines with reference to relevant IMO documents for Ballast Water reception
facility and ballast water exchange areas.
Nigeria has also developed the Guidelines for
enforcement of violations of the Regulations on Ballast Water Management;
establishment of a globally recognised and integrated Ballast Water testing
laboratory; development of a home-grown concept of Ballast Water Management on
Ports with Acceptable Risk (PWAR). This concept was presented by Nigeria at the
MPEC 74 in May 2019.
Other steps the country has taken include; the
designation of allowable Ballast Water discharge zones in Nigeria; development
of Guidelines for ship owners including the type approval of ballast water
management equipment and systems; and feasibility studies for the designation
of Ballast Water Management exchange for Lagos.
Speaking also, the Secretary General of the IMO, Mr. Kitack Lim, represented by Technical Officer, Sub-Division for Prospective Measures, Marine Environment Division,  Dr. Megan
Jensen, said that strict implementation of the Ballast Water Management
Convention was important in order to protect marine ecosystem, which could come
under threats of invasive species.
He said that although ships transfer the largest
quantities of ballast water for the sake of stability and structural integrity “…ballast
water also has the potential to pose as serious ecological, economic and health
threat, due to the harmful organisms and pathogens it may transfer from one
ecosystem to another.
“Under favourable conditions transferred species may survive
to establish a reproductive population in the host environment, becoming
invasive in the absence of natural predators, out-competing native species and
multiplying in significant or terrifying speed.
“Species invasions are among the greatest threats to
biodiversity globally, and they are virtually irreversible. As such, the introduction
of marine species via ballast water can also have a negative impact on the fisheries
and other marine or coastal industries, resources and infrastructure.”
He disclosed that 81 countries around the world have
ratified the Convention, which represents 80 % of the total world tonnage, as
other countries are in the process of ratification.
Participating countries according to her, include
Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Republic of the Gambia that have
acceded to the Ballast Water Management Convention.
He urged other countries of the region to accede to
the Convention.
In her contribution, Dr. Felicia Mogo, Director and Head
of Marine Environment Protection Unit at NIMASA, said the Agency has through conscientious
monitoring been committed to ensuring compliance with provisions of Ballast
Water Management Convention.  
She said: “We have the joint monitoring team that goes
out with the other teams that are checking for cabotage vessels, and safety.
They board vessels and check their ballast water record books.”
Mogo said they had been able to carry out two training sessions
on the biological invasive species in ballast water, and general awareness
creation.
Stakeholders are regularly engaged in discussions on
how to get best results working together, Mogo added.

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