Panama adopts ballast water agreement

The full National Assembly of Panama approved, in third debate, the draft law by which the International Agreement for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments from Ships, 2004 (BWM) seeks to prevent the uncontrolled discharge of ballast water and sediments from ships.

To avoid contamination and effects on marine ecosystems, on February 13, 2004, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the International Agreement for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, which contains the measures and rules necessary for the prevention, control and management of ballast water, with a view to minimizing, and eventually eliminating, harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens. World interest demands action based on globally applicable rules.

Regulations to disposed off ballast water.

Regulations to disposed off ballast water.

The entry requirements of the agreement were established to meet the approval of 35% of world tonnage, but despite being approved by 51 of the States, these represent only 34.87% of the gross tonnage. On being adopted by Panama, which currently represents 18% of the tonnage, the set parameters are exceeded.

This Agreement enters into force twelve months after the date of deposit of the instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Secretary General of the IMO.

Ballast water contaminates the environment.

Ballast water contaminates the environment.

With the adoption of this agreement, the Panamanian Maritime Administration undertakes to fulfill the obligations related to preventing, minimizing or eliminating the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ballast water and sediments on board ships of the Panamanian merchant marine and acquires the commitment to ensure that port terminals where repair work or cleaning ballast tanks takes place, provide suitable facilities for receiving these sediments.

This agreement outlines the guidelines to be observed to minimize the introduction of exotic organisms and the spread of pathogenic microorganisms in water ballast and, at the same time, is based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which stipulates that “States shall take all measures necessary to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment”.

Ballast water is used to provide stability of ships or boats when empty or not carrying enough cargo and to ensure safe navigation. Generally this water is collected in the local operational area of the vessel, i.e., in the port or coastal area, which increases the possibility of taking aboard pathogenic organisms along with the ballast water. This possibility increases when the vessel is next to local untreated wastewater or sewage discharges.

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  1. […] Read the full statement from Bulletin Panama here […]

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