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Statutory Documents - IMO Publications and Documents - Resolutions - Assembly - IMO Resolution A.868(20) Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water to Minimize the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens (Adopted on 27 November 1997) - The Assembly

The Assembly

 RECALLING Article 15(j) of the Convention on the International Maritime Organization concerning the functions of the Assembly in relation to regulations and guidelines concerning prevention and control of marine pollution from ships,

 RECALLING ALSO Resolution A.774(18) by which it recognized that the uncontrolled discharge of ballast water and sediment from ships has led to the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens causing injury to public health and damage to property and the environment, and accordingly adopted Guidelines for Preventing the Introduction of Unwanted Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens from Ships' Ballast Water and Sediment Discharges, and further that the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) shall keep the ballast water issue and the application of the Guidelines under review with a view to further developing the Guidelines as a basis for a new Annex to MARPOL 73/78,

 RECALLING FURTHER that the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in its Agenda 21 requests IMO to consider the adoption of appropriate rules on ballast water discharge to prevent the spread of non-indigenous organisms and further proclaims in its Declaration on Environment and Development that States shall widely apply the precautionary approach according to their capabilities,

 BEARING IN MIND that MEPC/Circ.288 recognized that the existing Guidelines do not provide a complete solution towards the total prevention of the introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens, but urged that focus should be directed on measures aimed at minimizing the risks, emphasizing further that in applying the existing Guidelines, the ship's safety was of paramount importance,

 NOTING the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992, and that the transfer and introduction of alien aquatic species with ballast water threatens the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity,

 NOTING FURTHER the status of work carried out by MEPC as requested by Resolution A.774(18) concerning the development of legally binding provisions on ballast water management together with guidelines for their effective implementation, as well as the Guidance on Safety Aspects of Ballast Water Exchange at Sea prepared by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment, and distributed as MEPC/Circ.329 and MSC/Circ.806, both of 30 June 1997,

 RECOGNIZING that several States have taken unilateral action by adopting legally binding provisions for local, regional or national application with a view to minimizing the risks of introducing harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through ships entering their ports, and also that this issue, being of worldwide concern, demands action based on globally applicable regulation together with guidelines for their effective implementation and uniform interpretation,

 HAVING CONSIDERED the recommendation of the MEPC at its fortieth session on this issue,

  1. ADOPTS the Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water to Minimize the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens set out in the Annex to the present resolution;

  2. REQUESTS Governments to take urgent action in applying these Guidelines, including the dissemination thereof to the shipping industry, and to use them as a basis for any measures they adopt with a view to minimizing the risks of introducing harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens and to report to the MEPC on any experience gained in their implementation;

  3. REQUESTS ALSO the MEPC to work towards completion of legally binding provisions on ballast water management in the form of a new Annex to MARPOL 73/78, together with guidelines for their uniform and effective implementation with a view to their consideration and adoption in the year 2000;

  4. REQUESTS FURTHER the MSC to include in its workplan the evaluation of information received from interested Parties, particularly that relevant to paragraph 12.2 of the guidelines adopted herewith, with a view to determining the hazards and potential consequences for various existing ship types and operations. The MSC is also requested to consider any other relevant issues concerning ballast water management as well as design objectives for new ships with a view to minimizing to the extent possible risks of introducing harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens with ships' ballast water and sediments;

  5. REVOKES Resolution A.774(18).


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