UNEP CEP Celebrates World Maritime Day
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), is a specialized agency of the United Nations which is responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent marine pollution.The 2014 theme was chosen in order to provide an opportunity to highlight those IMO treaty instruments, which have not yet entered into force, as well as those for which ratification, by more States and more effective implementation would yield significant benefits.
Within the Wider Caribbean Region, UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme works with the IMO through the Oil Spills Regional Activity Centre for Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Training and Information Centre (RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe) to prevent and respond to pollution incidents in the marine environment. Through the work of the Cenre, technical support has been provided to countries to assist in the implementation of the London Convention and Protocol, the MARPOL Convention and the Oil Spills Protocol of the Cartagena Convention.
A major ongoing joint initiative is the Globallast Water Partnerships project which is helping countries establish ballast water management policies in order to decrease the risk of marine bio-invasions and promote ratification of the Ballast Water Convention.
‘Ballast water’ is water carried by ships to ensure stability, trim and structural integrity of ships. When discharged in different marine environments, local marine resources and habitats may be negatively impacted. Thousands of marine species are carried in ships’ ballast water tanks (basically anything that is small enough to pass through a ships’ ballast water intake ports and pumps) including harmful aquatic species and pathogens, which may create hazards to the environment, human health, property or resources, impair biological diversity or interfere with other legitimate uses of such areas. It is estimated that at least 7000 different species are carried in ships' ballast tanks around the world.
Some introduced species can become invasive and destroy natural biodiversity through altering native fish or other populations. Since the Caribbean has sensitive marine ecosystems and is recognized as one of the most popular shipping destinations with about 50,000 cruise ships visiting annually, ballast water management is a high priority.