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Morocco, Ghana and Indonesia ratified the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments last November, triggering the convention’s entry into force one year after this crucial ratification.

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWTS) was adopted in 2004. It aims to establish effective protection against ships transporting invasive species across the world via uptake and discharge of ballast water and sediments.

Due to the conflict between IMO and USA requirements, the shipping world was expecting the ratification would take a long time. But at the end of November, several countries quite unexpectedly ratified the convention. The ratification of Morocco, Ghana and Indonesia took the total number of ratifications to 47 representing more than 35% of global tonnage. The convention will come into force 12 months after the date on which 30 IMO member states, representing 35% of the world’s tonnage, have ratified it.

When the convention would be effective about one year from now, shipyards will face a huge demand for installing BWTS on board of ships. The difficult question then is which installation to choose: among over 50 treatment systems approved under the current IMO regime, fewer than 20 manufacturers have so far indicated their intent to submit their systems for US approval.

And as BWTS prevent the build up of sediments in ballast water tanks, shipyards will face a significant demand for sediment removal and disposal. Therefore, countries hosting shipyards should prepare relevant national legislation in time to cope with these sediments disposal.