IMO’s BWM Convention to Enter Into Force in September 2017

Image Courtesy: IMO

With Finland’s accession of the International Ballast Water Management Convention, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said that the remaining condition for entry into force has been met and therefore the BWM Convention is scheduled to enter into force on September 8, 2017.

IMO has approved draft amendments to the Convention’s implementation scheme and if adopted in October 2016, then approved ballast water treatment systems meeting the D-2 biological standard will need to be installed on new ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017, as well as on existing ships, not later than the first MARPOL IOPP Renewal Survey carried out on/after September 8, 2017.

Accession by Finland has triggered the entry into force of a key international measure for environmental protection that aims to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species in ships’ ballast water.

BWM Convention’s entery into force will mark a landmark step towards halting the spread of invasive aquatic species, which can disrupt local ecosystems, affect biodiversity and lead to substantial economic loss.

Under the Convention’s terms, ships will be required to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments

“The entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention will not only minimize the risk of invasions by alien species via ballast water, it will also provide a global level playing field for international shipping, providing clear and robust standards for the management of ballast water on ships,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.

Image Courtesy: IMO
Image Courtesy: IMO

Her Excellency Päivi Luostarinen Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Finland to IMO, handed over the country’s instrument of acceptance to the Ballast Water Management Convention to IMO Secretary-General Lim today.

The accession brings the combined tonnage of contracting States to the treaty to 35.1441%, with 52 contracting Parties. The convention stipulates that it will enter into force 12 months after ratification by a minimum of 30 States, representing 35% of world merchant shipping tonnage.

The BWM Convention was adopted in 2004 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for developing global standards for ship safety and security and for the protection of the marine environment and the atmosphere from any harmful impacts of shipping.

Two Greek Shipping Firms Convicted of Dumping Oily Waste

judgeGreek shipping companies Oceanic Illsabe Limited and Oceanfleet Shipping Limited, and two of their employees, were convicted of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), obstruction of justice, false statements, witness tampering and conspiracy, according to the US Department of Justice.

Convicted by a federal jury in Greenville, North Carolina, Oceanic Illsabe Limited is the owner of the M/V Ocean Hope, a large cargo vessel that was responsible for dumping tons of oily waste into the Pacific Ocean last year, while Oceanfleet Shipping Limited was the managing operator of the vessel.

Also convicted at trial were two senior engineering officers who worked aboard the vessel, Rustico Ignacio and Cassius Samson. The jury convicted on each of the nine counts in the indictment.

The US Department of Justice said that in June 2015 the vessel discharged around ten metric tons of sludge into the ocean. The vessel was also regularly pumping contaminated water directly overboard. None of these discharges were disclosed as required.

The evidence presented during the nine-day trial demonstrated that the companies were aware that the ship had not offloaded any oil sludge from the vessel since September 2014 and that the ship rarely used its oil-water separator.

Instead, the vessel’s second engineer, Samson, ordered crewmembers to connect what is known in the industry as a “magic pipe” to bypass the vessel’s oil-water separator and pump oil sludge overboard. In addition, crewmembers were ordered to pump oily water from the vessel’s bilges directly into the ocean up to several times per week. The dumping occurred with the knowledge and approval of the ship’s chief engineer, Ignacio.

Finally, the engineers used a tank designated for oily wastes to store diesel fuel for sale on the black market.

Upon arriving at the Port of Wilmington, Oceanic, Oceanfleet, Ignacio and Samson attempted to hide these discharges by presenting a false and fictitious oil record book to US Coast Guard inspectors. When inspectors uncovered evidence of dumping, the defendants ordered lower-level crewmembers to lie to Coast Guard personnel. Samson also made several false statements to a Coast Guard inspector regarding the bypass of the oil-water separator.

At the conclusion of trial, defendants Oceanic and Oceanfleet were convicted of one count of conspiracy, one count of violating APPS, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of false statements and four counts of witness tampering.

Ignacio was convicted of one count of conspiracy, one count of violating APPS, one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of witness tampering, while Samson was convicted of one count of conspiracy, one count of violating APPS, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of false statements and three counts of witness tampering.

The companies could be fined up to USD 500,000 per count, in addition to other possible penalties.

Ignacio and Samson face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the obstruction of justice charges.