By Godwin Oritse
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has commenced the training of some officials of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on the management of marine biological baseline survey for the implementation of ballast water.
In a global response to the threat of harmful invasive aquatic species to the marine environment through ship transportation, the international maritime community, through the IMO, adopted the international Convention on ballast water management in 2004 which is yet to receive the required number of ratification by at least 30 countries representing 35 per cent of the world gross tonnage.
The training of Nigeria maritime officials is in readiness of the Nigerian authorities to embrace and domesticate the convention.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the training programme, IMO’s regional coordinator for West and Central Africa, Mr Micheal Luguje, said that the marine environment and the maritime industry are facing new challenges with the transfer of non- native aquatic species amongst marine ecosystems.
Luguje stated that the economy and health damages this phenomenon has caused is unquantifiable adding that it will be in the best interest of every nation to implement ballast water management convention of the IMO.
“As the world continues to depend on shipping for importation and exportation of goods and as maritime trade grows and the ships are getting larger and faster, so do the chances of transporting harmful organisms and pathogens to this region and other parts of the world,” he said.
Luguje commended Nigeria for providing direction and leadership in the sub region noting that IMO’s has been partnering with Nigeria to host a number of national and regional maritime capacity building courses and seminars.
He called on other maritime nations to come together and form partnership with a view to reduce the burden of the effective management of ballast water in the marine industry.
“We should keep in mind no single entity, whether it is an individual port state, shipping industry, regional organisation or multilateral funding body will ever have the resources to completely address the problem of ballast water management.
To succeed, we must form partnership – nationally, regionally, globally and across industry and discipline borders – that combine our limited resources to accomplish large cooperative projects,” he stated.
Earlier in his welcome address, NIMASA’s Director General, Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, noted that there has been a growing concern over the problem caused by alien species on the marine environment due to ballast water carried by ships.
He stated that the essence of the training is to empower Nigerians to carry out a baseline study of the marine environment adding that the result of the study will be used to produce a record of a baseline condition upon which any future impact can be assessed.