International Maritime Organization head office
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and sediments on 13 February 2004, often referred to as the ballast water convention. When this convention comes into force it will be compulsory for ships to treat their ballast water to ensure no unwanted marine pests are carried from one part of the world to another.
However, it could be several years before sufficient number of countries sign up to the convention for it to come into force.
Although the ballast water convention is not yet in force, many countries, including Australia, require ships to have treated their ballast water before they arrive in port.
IMO has developed guidelines for the management of ships' ballast water to minimise the transfer of harmful marine life and diseases. The guidelines help ship crews to make managementplans, keep records and report how they have treated their ballast water.
The IMO has joined with Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Development Program to assist developing countries with the ballast water issue. It is called the Global Ballast Water Management Program (GloBallast). Six initial demonstration sites are undertaking education, surveys, samplings, risk assessments, regulations and financing.