IMO Global Ballast Water Management Programme (GloBallast), aimed at assisting developing countries in implementing measures to minimize the adverse impacts of aquatic invasive species transferred by ships in ballast water, has begun a new phase. The preparatory phase of the new project was initiated on 1 April 2005 with funding of around US$700,000 from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). It will be executed by IMO over a period of 18 months and is expected to provide the groundwork for the full-scale project named “Building Partnerships to Assist Developing Countries to Reduce the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water”.
The main objective is to assist particularly vulnerable countries and/or regions to enact legal and policy reforms to meet the objectives of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, adopted by IMO in February 2004.The Convention requires ratification by 30 States, representing 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage, in order to enter into force. Assisting States to implement the requirements of the convention is seen as critical if the new instrument is to make a timely entry into force and for its aims to be achieved. The issue of aquatic invasive species, including the transfer of harmful organisms in ships’ ballast water and sediments, is seen as one of the greatest threats to global marine bio-diversity and ecosystems, and as a significant threat to coastal economies and even public health.
The transfer of harmful organisms in ships’ ballast water is set to increase three-fold as a result of the increase in shipping activity predicted in the next decade. Developing countries and Small Island Developing States are said to be at particular risk, as globalisation of the world economy continues and new markets and therefore ports and shipping routes are opened in these areas. Institutional strengthening and capacity building through technical cooperation programmes such as GloBallast Partnerships are vital if the most vulnerable countries are to be protected from the increasing risks of aquatic bio-invasions.
GloBallast Partnerships is intended to be a five-year project with a tentative budget of US$17 million, of which, US$10 million will come from in-kind contributions from the participating countries and other interested partners. The remainder of the funding will be in the form of a GEF grant to support incremental costs. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is acting as implementing agency for GEF.