Samoa hears about Ballast Water Treatment

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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PROTECTING OUR MARINE BIODIVERSITY: Representatives from government departments and environmental organisations toured the training facility and learnt about the issue of ballasting water.

PROTECTING OUR MARINE BIODIVERSITY: Representatives from government departments and environmental organisations toured the training facility and learnt about the issue of ballasting water.

Government and N.G.O. representatives were invited on board the Golden Bear Marine Training ship for a tour and a presentation about ballast water treatment. 

Science Coordinator, Stephen Loiacono spoke about the innovative ballast water treatment project that is occurring on the ship and shared about the innovative ways that the U.S. is protecting marine biodiversity by not potentially discharging foreign marine species into local waters. 

According to Mr. Loiacono, the world is headed towards where a ship will be ineffective if it doesn’t have one of these systems most of the countries that trade partially on using the ocean, recognise the economic damage it faces with ballasting and that eventually restrictions will be put in place to protect countries from ships that do not have the technology integrated onboard their ships. 

Mr. Loiacono said ballast treatment is an important environment issue facing countries as international trade becomes more complex and frequent. When a large ship is trading, they have to pull in water into their hulls to balance the boat and keep the ship buoyant and riding right. However, when a ship is in a foreign port and it needs to load on cargo that weighs millions of tonnes – it needs to discharge water or else it will sink. The environmental issue is that millions of foreign invasive species are discharged into another foreign sea.

“When a ship sails to a port and its bringing cargo along, it’s discharging water that water typically comes from a foreign body of water and with that is all the bacteria and viruses, fish and all the organisms that were pulled into the hull originally. In the case with the Black Sea, we’ve seen invasive species completely wipe out fisheries, billion dollar collapse in anchovy fishery and it put entire businesses out of business."

“It’s one of those things where you don’t have to be an environmentalist to realise how important that is. Fortunately, we have been doing this for a very long time these are microscopic organisms and they are essentially invisible to us unless you start looking for them." 

“It’s something that we have known about that’s been going on for quite some time now. It’s something that we are all aggressively trying to tackle right now, it’s not just one country, the global community now recognises that this is an incredibly costly and important environmental issue to tackle.”

Like most countries in the Pacific, Samoa has a strategy in place and is working towards completing the activities which ideally would result in our country being able to ratify the convention.

 “It was good to have this information that we never heard before and it is really eye opening. I did not know about this procedure or that we had a strategy in place about this important issue of ballast water treating.  I am a little surprised that this information about a strategy has not been disclosed or looked at carefully from our side,” Fauono Sina Mualia of Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S.) said. 

“At S.R.O.S we are a testing facility so I think we should all be working together on this and information needs to be disseminated to the relevant parties who will inevitably be working together on this. It’s quite important because as you heard in the information session, organisms brought into our waters from foreign waters could possibly wipe out the marine life in our waters.”

Registrar of Vessels for Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.), Makerita Atonio was interested in making connections with the training facility for future assistance and advice sharing.

“There is a ballast water convention at I.M.O., which we are looking to ratify but we are looking at every facet of the strategy in order to weigh out our options and see which is the best outcome for our country,” said Ms. Atonio. 

“It’s very useful to have the Golden Bear Training ship here because we can see what kind of treatment plants should be on any vessel in order to help limit the amount of invasive species coming into our waters. In terms of the I.M.O. ballast water convention, the areas that the Ministry or Works, Transport and Infrastructure are concerned with are the safety and security of maritime environment from ships operations in relation to ballased water.”

Representatives from South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, S.R.O.S., Ministry of Fisheries, M.W.T.I. and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment toured the ship. Officials from the Golden Bear Training facility reciprocated with a visit the S.R.O.S. headquarters and testing labs.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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