A new online risk assessment tool for non-indigenous species transfers via the ballast water of commercial ships has been released jointly by HELCOM and OSPAR.
The new tool provides an online application to run the latest version of the risk
assessment method for ballast water introductions in the Baltic and the larger
North-East Atlantic area. It replaces the previous version from July 2014 and
includes several major improvements.
Upon submitting information on the species observed in the departure and
destination ports, the website allows national maritime administrations and
ship owners to quickly identify routes that may qualify for exemptions to the
application of ballast water management for ships, and those that are unlikely
to. Interest in such exemptions is growing as the IMO Convention on Ballast
Water Management enters into force in September this year.
The underlying risk assessment method was
originally adopted by the 21 member states and EU within OSPAR and HELCOM in
2013. It is as a part of the comprehensive “Joint Harmonised Procedure” on
granting exemptions from ballast water treatment provisions of the 2004
International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water
and Sediments (BWM Convention) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Based on the IMO (G7) guidelines on granting exemptions under the BWM
Convention and provisions promoting regional cooperation, the joint harmonised
procedure specifies the procedure for granting exemptions (G7) and undertaking
The overall aim is to help protect the environment by identifying routes
that could present a high risk for the transfer of non-indigenous species. It
will also save both the shipping industry and maritime authorities time and
money by bringing transparency and clarity to the decision making process
around exemptions from the provisions of ballast water management.
Currently the online tool includes only port sampling data from ports in
Europe. However, the tool and the underlying approach could also be used for
other sea areas in the world.
The tool can be found on the address http://jointbwmexemptions.org.
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Note for editors:
The development of the tool is since 2012 supported by the Joint Task Group
on Ballast Water Exemptions (TG BALLAST) consisting of the Contracting Parties
of both Conventions and which is also open to official observer organisation
from both the shipping and environmental fields. TG BALLAST reports to the
HELCOM Maritime Group within HELCOM and OSPAR EIHA Committee within OSPAR.
The Maritime Group of HELCOM (HELCOM MARITIME), the parent group of the TG BALLAST within the HELCOM framework, identifies
and promotes actions to limit sea-based pollution and ways for safer navigation
in the Baltic Sea. It also works to ensure enforcement and harmonized
implementation of IMOs international shipping regulations in accordance to the
1992 Helsinki Convention.
The OSPAR Environmental Impacts of Humans Activities Committee (EIHA), the
parent group of the TG BALLAST within the OSPAR framework, works to reduce the
impact of human activities in the North East Atlantic.
In order to run the risk assessment model the online tool comprises a
database on observations of alien species and physical features in ports, lists
of target alien species for the two regions as well as a risk assessment
algorithm. Live links are provided to several existing scientific databases in
order to provide most recent information on for example the environmental
tolerance of species.
For more information, please contact:
Hermanni Backer Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Fish groups HELCOM Tel: +358 46 8509199 E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi
Marta RuizAssociate Professional SecretaryHELCOM +358 40 6472424 E-mail: marta.ruiz(at)helcom.fi
Joint HELCOM/OSPAR Task Group on Ballast Water Management Convention Exemptions
Maritime Working Group