Three countries, Monaco, Indonesia and Ghana, ratified the IMO Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, during the recent IMO Biennial Assembly Meeting, in London. This brings to 47 the number of IMO Members that have ratified the Convention since its inception in 2004, well in excess of the 30 states required for the implementation of the Convention.
The final remaining criterion is the ratification by states representing 35% of the world's merchant shipping tonnage. Prior to the Biennial Assembly Meeting, the Convention had been ratified by 44 states representing approximately 32.9% of the world's tonnage.
According to Lloyd's List Intelligence, the combined fleets of Indonesia and Ghana represent approximately 1.46% of the global fleet in terms of gross tonnage. Argentina, the Philippines, Belgium and Finland have all confirmed that they are in the process of ratifying the Convention. Should one of these countries with a larger proportion of the world's gross tonnage on its register complete the ratification process prior to the end of December 2015, it would seem likely that the criteria for enforcement of the Convention will have been met, leading to the Convention coming into force 12 months thereafter.
It is understood that the IMO are currently reviewing the distribution of the world's tonnage, in order to establish exactly what percentage has so far ratified the Convention and what additional percentage may be gained by the ratification by the aforementioned nations.
Many commentators believe that ship owners are not yet ready for the Convention, despite the fact that over ten years have elapsed since its inception. Of particular concern is the ongoing refusal by the United States to approve many of the ballast water treatment systems that have been type-approved by other nations.
Once in force, the Convention will require ship owners to install the necessary equipment for the proper treatment of ballast water by each vessel's next scheduled dry-docking. Regardless of when the Convention enters into force, the announcement will likely see many owners rescheduling dry-docks due in the immediate aftermath, in order to extend the deadline by which they will be required to install the necessary equipment.
Owners are likely to be waiting anxiously for the results of the IMO's current review of the distribution of world tonnage, and to see which nation next confirms ratification, and when.