Global ballast water management and the “same location” concept: a clear term or a clear issue?


  • Corresponding Editor (ad hoc): H. J. MacIsaac.


The United Nations recognized the transfer of harmful organisms and pathogens across natural barriers as one of the four greatest pressures to the world's oceans and seas, causing global environmental changes, while also posing a threat to human health, property, and resources. Ballast water transferred by vessels was recognized as a prominent vector of such species and was regulated by the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship's Ballast Water and Sediments (2004). Permanent exceptions from ballast water management requirements may apply when the uptake and discharge of ballast water occur at the “same location.” However, the “same location” concept may be interpreted differently, e.g., a port basin, a port, an anchorage, or a larger area even with more ports inside. Considering that the Convention is nearing the beginning of enforcement, national authorities all around the world will soon be exposed to applications for exceptions. Here we consider possible effects of different interpretations of the “same location” concept. We have considered different possible extensions of the same location through environmental, shipping, and legal aspects. The extension of such areas, and the inclusion of more ports, may compromise the Convention's main purpose. We recommend that “same location” mean the smallest practicable unit, i.e., the same harbor, mooring, or anchorage. An entire smaller port, possibly also including the anchorage, could be considered as same location. For larger ports with a gradient of environmental conditions, “same location” should mean a terminal or a port basin. We further recommend that IMO consider the preparation of a guidance document to include concepts, criteria, and processes outlining how to identify “same location,” which limits should be clearly identified.