The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) new International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) is set to enter into force on 8 September 2017.

The proposed operation of the convention has been made possible after Finland acceded to the BWM Convention.

The convention intends to prevent the spread of insidious aquatic species, which can destroy local ecosystems as well as affect biodiversity and lead to substantial economic loss.

"These species are causing enormous damage to biodiversity and the valuable natural riches of the earth upon which we depend."

As per the BWM convention, ships will be mandated to manage their ballast water to remove or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments.

International Maritime Organization secretary-general Kitack Lim said: “The spread of invasive species has been recognised as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and the economic well-being of the planet.

“These species are causing enormous damage to biodiversity and the valuable natural riches of the earth upon which we depend.

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“Invasive species also cause direct and indirect health effects and the damage to the environment is often irreversible.”

With the BWM convention in place, the risk of invasion by alien species via ballast water will be reduced.

The convention will also offer strict standards for the management of ballast water on ships.

Finland’s accession has brought the combined tonnage of contracting states to the treaty to 35.1441%, with 52 contracting parties.

IMO has stated that the convention would be effective 12 months after the ratification has been signed by a minimum of 30 states, representing 35% of world merchant shipping tonnage.

Adopted in 2004, the BWM convention intends to develop global standards for ship safety and security, as well as to protect marine environments from the harmful impacts of shipping.

Image: Finland handing over the country’s instrument of acceptance to the ballast water management convention to IMO. Photo: courtesy of International Maritime Organization (IMO).