NIGERIA REVIEWS BALLAST WATER MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL OPTIONS
Outlines Operational Guidelines and Sanctions
Conscious and aware of the consequences of lack of control/supervision of the intake and discharge of Ballast water by ships, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), is taking proactive steps to address its exposure to the threat of ballast water because of the high tanker traffic in its waters.
Director General of the Agency, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, outlined plans by Nigeria to address Ballast Water issues at the 10th Meeting of the National Taskforce (NTF) on Implementation of Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, 2004.
Therefore, NIMASA as the Lead Agency for the implementation of international conventions, codes, and regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), had in conjunction with other members of the NTF set up a plan for full implementation of the BWM Convention in the Nigeria, Jamoh disclosed.
The Director General, who was represented by the Director, Marine Accident Investigation Unit, Mrs. Rita Egbuche, stated, “Nigeria as an oil producing country, we recognise the country’s susceptibility to the danger of ballast water and we have put processes and actions in place to deal with the threat in line with the resolutions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). We would continue to update and fine-tune our strategies as new developments emerge.”
Activities on the roadmap for Nigeria’s full implementation of the BWM convention include development of ballast sediment reception facilities; establishment of globally recognized and integrated BWM testing laboratory; development of regulations and guidelines for ship-owners; and authorization of Classification Societies and formalization of agreement with NIMASA on safety and prevention of pollutions survey and certification.
Others are partnership with relevant research institutions and universities on biological baseline studies of Nigerian ports and coastal states, particularly the sensitive areas with prevalence of marine lives; and training of Surveyors and Marine Inspectors for the enforcement of the BWM Convention.
Further measures to be enforced are the Survey and Certification of applicable ships prior to issuance of the International Ballast Water Management Convention certificate; issuance of Ballast Water Exemption Certificate to ships operating exclusively in Nigerian waters and ships with sealed ballast tanks; feasibility study for the designation of BWM exchange areas in Lagos, Warri and Port Harcourt; and preliminary marine biological baseline survey (MBBS) of Lagos ports and environs.
There are also plans to designate Ballast Water Management Exchange Areas in Nigerian waters, organize sensitization programmes on BWM for stakeholders on the provisions of the regulations, as well as enforcement and compliance strategies/sanctions.
Globally, all ships, especially tankers, carry ballast water while on voyage to maintain stability and operate effectively and safely. But ballast water has also been identified as one of the major vectors for the introduction of invasive alien species in the marine environment.
The NTF was constituted in 2010 following a workshop organized by NIMASA, in collaboration with IMO to develop strategies for full implementation of the BWM convention.
Nigeria was one of the first eight countries to domesticate the convention on October 5, 2005. The country has taken steps towards full compliance with the provisions of the convention, including the development of the Merchant Shipping Regulations for BWM 2012 by NIMASA.
The two-day meeting featured paper presentations on thematic areas covering home-grown ballast water management strategies; experiences of Classification Societies on compliance by Nigerian-flagged vessels; training on BWM convention; feasibility studies on designation of ballast water exchange areas; and baseline survey of Lagos territorial waters.