Union warns of criminalisation risks posed by unreliable equipment
Nautilus has voiced alarm at the potential for ship masters and officers to face new criminal penalties when the international Ballast Water Management Convention comes into effect.
The Union’s concerns were highlighted during talks at the International Maritime Organisation’s bulk liquids and gases subcommittee last month, where delegates considered proposals for sampling ballast water to ensure it meets the standards set by the convention.
The meeting agreed plans to undertake a trial period for port state control (PSC) sampling and analysis once the convention comes into force.
In response to industry concerns about the reliability of equipment and standards of sampling, it was agreed that during the trial period criminal sanctions or ship detentions will not be applied in cases where discharged ballast water fails to meet the standards.
Operators have also expressed concern that the methods for sampling and analysis being proposed for use by PSC were actually more stringent than those being used to test the ballast water management systems during type approval — which could mean that type-approved systems operated in line with manufacturers’ specifications could prove to be non-compliant if the discharge is tested by PSC.
The trial period will start as soon as the convention comes into force and will initially run for two years. During this time, port states will still have the authority to detain vessels if the ballast water management certification and documentation is deemed to be in breach of convention requirements.
Nautilus senior national secretary Allan Graveson, who attended the IMO meeting, commented: ‘Although the convention is still to be ratified, this is a very important issue and the Union remains concerned at the potential for unwarranted criminalisation of masters and o•cers, which should not be underestimated.
’And John Dickie, secretary general of the International Federation of Ship Masters’ Associations, added: ‘There appears to be a problem with the reliability of the equipment and its ability to produce reliable results time after time.