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.