The government is reinforcing efforts to effectively manage ballast water in the domestic shipping sector to lessen the environmental impact of the industry in the Philippine seas.
Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Shipyards Regulation Service Director Ramon C. Hernandez said the role of the shipping sector in the transportation industry for an archipelagic country like the Philippines is huge, but the ballast tanks of ships have caused a negative impact on the marine environment.
Ballast tanks are compartments within ships that hold water to improve their stability, structural integrity and navigational safety.
“When water is loaded into the ships, various biological materials such as plants and bacteria are sucked up into their ballast tanks. When the water has to be unloaded back to the sea, these biological materials are introduced in a new environment and become invasive, which causes damage to aquatic ecosystems,” Hernandez explained.
Hence, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) enforced a Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention in 2017. The Philippines ratified it a year after.
Currently, Hernandez said, Marina and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Biodiversity Management Bureau are “finalizing the rules and regulations” of the convention “to control the transfer of invasive aquatic species by ships, as well as to fully and effectively implement the international convention for the control and management of ships’ ballast water and sediments.”
“The country’s strategic action plan on the BWM, on the other hand, is undergoing further study and consultation,” he added.