ALIENS 3 Sampling on 14 August 2013
In 2010, the HELCOM Guidance on how to distinguish between high and low risk (a risk of secondary spreading of alien species through ballast water and sediments) by ships engaged in intra-Baltic voyages was adopted in the HELCOM Moscow Ministerial Meeting. The aim of this Guidance was to support transparent and consistent risk assessment for regional ship voyages and to allow a unified Baltic Sea system on exemptions for applying ballast water management (BWM) requirements in accordance with the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship's Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWMC) Regulation A-4. Subsequently, the Guidance was tested through the "Pilot risk assessments of alien species transfer on intra-Baltic ship voyages" project (HELCOM ALIENS project) in 2010-2011. The results of the project proved the need of data on alien species and environmental conditions in ports, as a pre-requisite for carrying out a reliable risk assessment. In order to fill in those gaps, a second project on alien species (HELCOM ALIENS 2 project) was launched. It concluded in December 2012 providing a proposal for a regionally harmonized method for granting exemptions from BW treatment for marine traffic in the Baltic Sea.
At a broader geographical level, HELCOM and OSPAR Commissions have been working together through the Joint HELCOM/OSPAR Task Group on Ballast Water Management Convention Exemptions established in August-September 2012 involving Contracting Parties of both Conventions. One of the terms of reference of this Task Group was the jointly development of the "Joint HELCOM/OSPAR Harmonised Procedure for the Contracting Parties of OSPAR and HELCOM on the granting of exemptions under the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, Regulation A-4", to ensure that exemptions are granted in a constant manner that prevents damage to the environment, human health, property or resources, once the BWMC enters into force. The Harmonised Procedure was adopted at the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting (3 October 2013) and OSPAR Commission meeting (24-28 June 2013).
The overall aim of HELCOM ALIENS 3 project ("Test, further development and operationalization of the HELCOM biological survey protocols and A-4 risk assessments in the Baltic Sea") was to provide the HELCOM Contracting Parties with the possibility to test the regionally harmonized A4 process before the entry into force of the BWMC.
For that purpose the project tested, further developed and operationalized the harmonized system for granting exemptions (according to Regulation A-4) to any requirements to apply regulation B-3 (Ballast Water Management for Ships) or C-1 (Additional Measures to those on Section B of the Convention) of the BWMC in intra-Baltic traffic, developed within the HELCOM ALIENS 2 project.
The project also supported the work of the HELCOM-OSPAR Task Group for Ballast Water Management Convention Exemptions (HELCOM-OSPAR TG BALLAST), which further developed and adapted the outcome of the HELCOM ALIENS 2 project for the combined North Sea-Baltic region.
There has been a fruitful cooperation between the Barcelona Convention, the OSPAR Commission and HELCOM on ballast water management to avoid the introduction of non-indigenous species between their ports. The work developed is reflected in the following voluntary Guidance which have an interim character due to the fact that they will no longer apply when a ship is in a position to apply the D-2 Standard of the BWMC, or the Convention comes into force and a ship has to apply the D-2 Standard:
The revised tool, developed with funding through the HELCOM ALIENS 2 and 3 and BALSAM projects by the HELCOM Secretariat and Germany (BSH/Brockmann consult) will allow administrations and ship owners to quickly identify routes that may qualify for exemptions to the application of ballast water management for ships (regulation B‐3) and those that are unlikely to;
Mr. Hermanni BackerProfessional SecretaryHELCOM SecretariatPhone: +358 46 850 9199Email: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fiSkype name: helcom02