A joint regional tool to identify low risk routes for IMO Ballast Water Convention exemptions (A-4)
Based on the overall IMO framework the 21 Baltic and North-East Atlantic coastal states and EU have developed and agreed in 2013 on a detailed joint harmonised procedure (JHP) to defining “low risk” routes, as well as other necessary steps in granting exemptions under regulation A-4 of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. This has been done as a joint venture between the two regional seas commissions HELCOM and OSPAR .
Check the potential risk on available routes.
You can do this by selecting in the drop down menus (below) a starting and ending port for a route among those ports where we have comparable data.
Ballast Water treatment is mandatory from 2017
The entry into force in September 2017 of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention requires ships in international traffic to apply ballast water management measures, such as ballast water exchange (D-1 standard for an interim period) and fulfill a certain discharge standard (D-2 standard according to the ship specific application schedule).
The latter requires generally the installation of a certified ballast water treatment device, which enables sterilization to avoid transfers of ballast water mediated species.
Exemptions are possible on low risk routes
Exemptions from this general requirement can be granted by country administrations under certain low risk conditions. In order to identify such low risk conditions a risk assessment should be carried out. IMO provides general guidance for such risk assessments -but does not specify a single approach to be followed.
In semi enclosed seas like the Baltic and North Seas it is essential that the coastal countries specify such low risk conditions together in a harmonised and transparent way to ensure that the convention fulfils its aims.
A joint regional approach on exemptions to supplement IMO is available
Based on the overall IMO framework the Baltic and North-East Atlantic coastal states and EU have developed and agreed in 2013 on a detailed joint harmonised procedure (JHP) to defining “low risk” as well as other necessary steps in granting such exemptions. This has been done as a joint venture between two regional seas commissions HELCOM and OSPAR.
The agreed approach is fully in line with IMO guidance and is based on a combination of “environmental” factors, namely the difference in salinity between ports/locations, as well as the presence of specific “target species”.
The outcome of the approach is a categorization to High, Medium and Low risk routes which will then be the basis for further national deliberation and final decision.
The countries who have agreed to this approach within HELCOM include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Russia.
The countries who have agreed to this approach within OSPAR include Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Also the European Union is a member of both HELCOM and OSPAR.
Data is currently available only for specific ports in Europe. However the JHP itself should be applicable in most parts of the world. It only needs an agreed “target species” list as well as port sampling data from the origin and destination ports, collected using the JHP methodology.
For those interested in studying the approach in more depth the details of the JHP can be found under the tab “Exemptions".