The Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, will enforce compliance on the management of ballast water in order to minimise hazards associated with it, an official said on Thursday.
Sani Shehu, Senior Manager, in the NPA’s Environmental Department, made this known at the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria, MARAN, capacity building training on International Maritime Conventions, in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that ballast water is water carried in ships’ ballast tanks to improve stability, balance and trim.
It is taken up or discharged when cargo is unloaded or loaded.
When ships take on ballast water, plants and animals that live in the ocean are also picked up, which causes harmful ecological, economic and health challenges in the host environment.
According to Mr Shehu, ballast water is a vector through which Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens, HAOP, are transferred from one place to another.
“Shipping has been widely recognized as a major component of international trade, driving the most effective means of transporting bulk cargoes and passengers across borders of water from one place to another over a long distance.
“For safety of ships and oil tankers, ballast water is required to maintain stability throughout their voyages, especially when empty or having an insufficient load,” he said.
Mr Shehu said that before now, NPA was not checking for compliance because the convention had not come into law.
He said that Ballast Water Management Convention was a new thing that NPA wanted to capture into its activities.
The official said that before, for ships that had the same coastal line with Nigeria like Ghana, the authority might not bother to check; but for international ships, they needed to discharge their ballast water 200km away from the county.
Mr Shehu said that, going forward, a sample of ballast water of an incoming ship would be taken to a sediment reception facility for analysis, to check for harmful species.
He said out that in the whole of West Africa, it was only Nigeria that had the sediment treatment facility.
Mr Shehu listed some of the challenges of the convention as: source of funds, no ballast water sediment treatment facility and insufficient trained manpower to the programme.
He said that as regards the Marpol 73/78 Convention, it was introduced due to the oil pollution of the territorial waters which was recognised as a problem, necessitating regulation.
Shehu said that for implementation and enforcement, signatory nations pledged to comply with the convention and laws, as the effect was damaging to the marine life, wildlife, fishing, tourism, and wetlands.
He said that zero tolerance of illegal discharge from ships could only be effectively enforced when there are adequate reception facilities in ports.
According to him, NPA has environmental department in ports to checkmate this.
Shehu said that the Basel Convention was also established in 1980 to control the transboundary movement of hazardous waste and their disposal.
He said that the objectives were to ensure disposal of hazardous waste was done closer to source of generation, minimise the generation, apply strict control across borders and prohibit shipment of hazardous waste.
Shehu said that 60,000 tones of e-waste pass through Tin-can port annually, hence the need to check its disposal due to its negative effect.
Earlier, Anya Njoku, President MARAN, said that the training was to help remove ambiquity when reporting maritime news, to avoid misleading the public and government.
The training was organised in collaboration with NPA and the Nigerian Shippers Council.