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Nigeria intensifies strategies to protect marine environment

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Dakuku Peterside, NIMASA Boss

• IMO sues for implementation of BWM convention globally


Nigeria has intensified efforts at protecting the marine environment in compliance with the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

As a result, the nation’s maritime watchdog, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), gathered five nations including Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Republic of Gambia, in Lagos, to chart path to successful implementation of the convention, aimed at a clean marine environment.

Director-General, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, revealed the strategies at the ongoing Regional Workshop on Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) 2004 for Anglophone West and Central African Countries, in Lagos.

Peterside said the adoption of the BWMC was in response to the growing concern over the problem of invasive alien species on the marine environment as a result of ballast carried by ships.

He said since the advent of the convention, efforts have been made to ensure effective implementation of its provisions among which is the regional workshop covering the West and Central African region.

According to him, Nigeria, being among the first five countries to ratify the convention has taken bold steps in ensuring effective implementation, which includes: the development and gazetting of regulations on BWM to the Nigerian Merchant Shipping Act 2001.

Also in place is the development of an enforcement and implementation manual on ship ballast water; the development of guidelines with reference to relevant IMO documents for ballast water reception facility and ballast water exchange areas.

Others are: the development of guidelines for enforcement of violations of the regulations on BWM; establishment of a globally recognised and integrated ballast water testing laboratory; designation of allowable ballast water discharge zones in Nigeria; development of guidelines for ships owners including the type approval of BWM equipment and systems, among others.

Peterside said: “These steps had in no small measure shaped the regulation of ballast in our marine environment.”

Secretary-General, International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Kitack Lim, said the marine environment and resources are vital to the global economy and to our future and sustainable economic growth, adding that about 80 per cent of the world’s commodities are shipped through waters.

Noting that the ships transfer large quantities of ballast water, he stated that the ballast water has potential to pose serious ecological, economic and health threat due to the harmful organism and pathogens it may transfer from one ecosystem to another.

The BWMC was adopted in 2004, to minimise the risk of species invasion via ballast water and the convention enters into force on September 8, 2017.

About 81 countries have currently ratified the convention, including Nigeria, representing more than 80 per cent of the world tonnage. The five countries that participated in the workshop have assented to the Convection.

He called for, “urgent need for uniform implementation of harmonised BWM regime around the world, and a harmonised approach to compliance monitoring and enforcement is crucial.”

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