SafeMed Offers Course on Ballast Water and Invasive Species

invasive species, ballast water, conservation, education, environment, SafeMed

Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Tunisia and Turkey were among the representatives at the SafeMed course on the environmental risk of ballast water last month. The course was offered in Malta and is designed to emphasize the effective implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention).

SafeMed is funded by a number of Mediterranean nations.  It is designed to encourage cooperation between members in maritime safety, security and the prevention of pollution and ecological damage from shipping. Ballast water exchanges are designed to facilitate safe and efficient shipping but if not carefully managed, they can spread invasive species around the world.

The invasion of the Black and Caspian Seas by North American comb jellyfish, for example, is a well-studied example of the harmful effects of bilge water exchanges. By the mid 1990s, North American comb jellyfish comprised up to 90% of the biomass in the Black Sea and has cost more than one billion US dollars in damage to local fisheries.

The damage caused by invasive species in ballast water can go both directions.

The zebra mussel invasion of North America, which has been estimated to cost up to 500 million US dollars per year, is believed to have come from the Black and Caspian Sea into North America via the ballast water of cargo ships in the Great Lakes.

Addressing the risks of ballast water invasive species will require international cooperation, a set of global standards and training of maritime workers on the implementation of these standards. SafeMed’s course is a step in the right direction.

Jellyfish Lake photo by Anaxibia (own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL via Wikimedia Commons

More on the Mediterranean Sea:

Mediterranean Agency Could Avert Offshore Natural Disasters

Is the Mediterranean Sea Harboring a Giant Plastic Patch?

Dealing With Jellyfish Invasions off Israel and Lebanon Coasts

About Brian Nitz

Brian remembers when a single tear dredged up a nation's guilt. The tear belonged to an Italian-American actor known as Iron-Eyes Cody, the guilt was displaced from centuries of Native American mistreatment and redirected into a new environmental awareness. A 10-year-old Brian wondered, 'What are they... No, what are we doing to this country?' From a family of engineers, farmers and tinkerers Brian's father was a physics teacher. He remembers the day his father drove up to watch a coal power plant's new scrubbers turn smoke from dirty grey-back to steamy white. Surely technology would solve every problem. But then he noticed that breathing was difficult when the wind blew a certain way. While sailing, he often saw a yellow-brown line on the horizon. The stars were beginning to disappear. Gas mileage peaked when Reagan was still president. Solar panels installed in the 1970s were torn from roofs as they were no longer cost-effective to maintain. Racism, public policy and low oil prices transformed suburban life and cities began to sprawl out and absorb farmland. Brian only began to understand the root causes of "doughnut cities" when he moved to Ireland in 2001 and watched history repeat itself. Brian doesn't think environmentalism is 'rocket science', but understanding how to apply it within a society requires wisdom and education. In his travels through Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, Brian has learned that great ideas come from everywhere and that sharing mistakes is just as important as sharing ideas.

8 thoughts on “SafeMed Offers Course on Ballast Water and Invasive Species

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  3. Michael Ordman

    Good that Israel’s Amiad Filtration Systems has the solution to this problem. It has won a 10 year contract with Calgon Carbon Corporation for cleaning ships’ ballast water. Amiad’s Arkal automatic self-cleaning disc filtration technology protects the marine environment from invasive species transported by ballast water. I wonder if SafeMed will have mentioned this in their course?


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