The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, has approved the introduction of the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and accession to the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (Ballast Water Management Convention) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The Convention requires all new ships to implement an approved Ballast Water and Sediments Management Plan. The ships will also have to carry a Ballast Water Record Book and follow ballast water management procedures to a given standard. Existing ships will be required to do the same but after a phase-in period. Ships are required to be surveyed and certified and may also be inspected by Port State Control officers who can verify that the ship has a valid certificate. They can also inspect the Ballast Water Record Book and, in some situations, sample the ballast water.
The Merchant Shipping Amendment Bill, 2015 incorporates into the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 the enabling provisions required for implementing the Convention. Indian ships of 400 Gross Tonnage (GT) and above on international voyages are required to possess an International Ballast Water Management Certificate. Indian ships below 400 GT plying within the territorial waters of India shall be issued an Indian Ballast Water Management Certificate. Ships which are not designed/constructed to carry ballast water, such as warships, naval auxiliary or other government-owned non-commercial ships, are exempted.
Port authorities will be statutorily obliged to provide ballast water sediment reception facilities. Indian and foreign ships of 400 GT and above are required to carry onboard a Ballast Water Management Plan. The ships will also be subject to survey and inspection. During inspection, a sample of ballast water could be analysed (provided it doesn’t cause undue delay in the operation/departure of the ship). If a ship complies with the convention but is still detained/delayed for inspection without any reasonable cause, it will be eligible for compensation/damages, explained a release.
The proposed Bill also provides for penalty on violation/non-compliance of the provisions. There are no financial implications to the government. Ports will charge ships for the use of such facilities.
This post was written by Atlantic Admin