By Oko Ebuka
THE Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has called on all relevant stakeholders to work towards achieving the standard set by the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, during the last convention on water ballast management, BWM.
The standard was meant to guide all seaports all over the world to ensure that each vessel moving from one location to another doesn’t have any problem as regard to ballast water discharge.
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Disclosing this in a chat with Vanguard Maritime Report, the NPA’s Assistant General Manager, Environment, Khadijat Sheidu-Shabi, said any country that does not keep the D1 and D2 regulation required by IMO will be sanctioned and invariably shut out of maritime business.
She stated: “The ballast water management convention which came into force since 2017 will be fully implemented by 2024. There is a certificate given to every vessel by IMO that lasts every five years, so that you can put your house in order. So by 2024, if you cannot keep to regulation D1and D2, then you are out of business.
“We want Nigeria to be fully prepared by 2024, or else like every other thing that happens in the world, we will end up becoming a dumping ground that everybody just comes and drops their organisms into our environment which can either dominate what is here or create an adaptive method which is different from where they are coming from”.
Sheidu-Shabi added that the huge cost of installing ballast water treatment in vessels will affect developing countries like Nigeria, hence the need to sensitise other countries within the Central and West African region to embrace the ballast water exchange within the territorial waters.
She further stated: “It is very expensive to install ballast water treatment in the ship, but if we have the same territorial waters, it will reduce the cost and not put some vessels that are in the Third World countries out of business.
“Those ones that are advanced, even if they have the treatment on their vessel, they will create that treatment facility, it will be cheaper for them.
“So, we are championing the course within the West and Central African region to let them know what we are doing”.
She acknowledged their collaborative efforts with the sister agency, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, saying that they have been working together in order to achieve this course.
She equally urged all other stakeholders in the maritime sector, to key into the project to enable Nigeria have an environment free from alien organisms.
“We are also working with our sister agencies like NIMASA in order to achieve this. We urge all stakeholders to tag along and follow up in this sensitization so that we don’t end up becoming a dumping ground for different organisms in our waters and environment. We have to fashion a solution that will be okay for our own environment that will not destroy our economy, our ecosystem in the water and will not put our own people out of business”, she concluded.
Recall that IMO set a standard on water ballast management known as D1 and D2 during the 2017 convention. According to the D-1 standard, ships are required to exchange their ballast water in open seas, away from coastal areas. Ideally, this means at least 200 nautical miles from land and in water at least 200 metres deep. By doing this, fewer organisms will survive and so ships will be less likely to introduce potentially harmful species when they release the ballast water.
While the D-2 standard specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, including specified indicator microbes harmful to human health. From the date of entry into force of the BWM Convention, all ships must conform to at least the D-1 standard; and all new ships, to the D-2 standard.