The Director General of Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has said that Nigeria is among the first five countries to ratify the propositions of the ballast water convention.
He reiterated Nigeria's commitment to the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, 2004.
Dakuku, also said NIMASA remained determined to ensure cleaner oceans and a safe, secure and environmentally sound maritime sector.
The Director-General stated these in his keynote address at the opening of a three-day regional workshop on Ballast Water Management for Anglophone West and Central African Countries, hosted by Nigeria in Lagos.
He said growing concerns about the adverse effect on the marine environment of invasive alien species produced by ballast carried by ships gave rise to the BWM convention of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
He stated: "Since the advent of the Convention, efforts have been made to ensure effective implementation of its provisions, among which is this Regional Workshop. The regional workshop, in essence, is to support the timely and harmonised implementation of the Convention in the West and Central African sub-region with priority and emphasis on the ratification and implementation of the Convention by member states. This is in addition to building capacity in the area of Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement (CME), Port Biological Baseline Surveys (PBBC), and risk assessment."
Peterside disclosed that Nigeria, being among the earliest countries to ratify the Convention, had taken steps to ensure its effective implementation.
Such steps, according to him, include: the development and gazetting of regulations on Ballast Water Management, pursuant to the Nigerian Merchant Shipping Act, 2007; development of an enforcement and implementation manual on ships' ballast water; and development of guidelines with reference to relevant IMO documents for ballast water reception facility and exchange areas.
Others are: development of guidelines for enforcement of violations of the regulation on ballast water management; establishment of a globally recognised and integrated ballast water testing laboratory; and development of a home-grown concept of Ballast Water Management and Ports with Acceptable Risk (PWAR), which was presented by Nigeria to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 74, in May 2019, among other initiatives.
Peterside told the participants to come up with meaningful recommendations and actions that would help realise the objectives of the convention. He called for more collaborative efforts in the region to ensure effective protection of the environment.
On his part, Secretary-General of IMO, Mr. Kitack Lim, who was represented by the Technical Officer, Sub-Division for Prospective Measures, Marine Environment Division, Dr. Megan Jensen, noted that the marine environment and marine resources were vital to the global economy and sustainable economic growth. He said there was an urgent need for implementation of a harmonised ballast water management regime around the world, with special focus on compliance, monitoring, and enforcement.
He stated that now that the convention has entered into force there is an urgent need to reinforce the implementation of a harmonized balanced water management while as well taking, "risk assessment, ensuring the protection of the environment, property and resources in respective countries into consideration."
Commenting on the challenges of Ballast water, the Head of Marine Environment Management Department, NIMASA, Dr(Mrs). Felicia Chima, said that Nigeria stands to benefit a lot.
"Ballast water is something that one can describe as being sweet because it serves in balancing of vessels and sour because it is a very horrible source of invasive species. When a particular evasive specie is introduced into the ecosystem it mostly occupies and actually destroys the ecosystem.
"Destruction of the ecosystem means destruction of the food chain. And that of course will tamper with our ocean resources. It is a source of disease carrying vectors. One of the challenges is that the way the ocean is, it is for the world and it keeps moving and moving. So we want all the stakeholders that should know to be at par with us so that we can work towards a cleaner ocean," Chima said.