Ballast water systems are used to stabilize ships at sea. Ballast water is pumped in to ensure safe operating conditions are maintained throughout a journey. This exercise decreases pressure on the hull, provides stability, improves propulsion and manoeuvrability, and compensates for weight variations due to changes in cargo and fuel consumption.

Ballast water is essential for safe and efficient modern shipping operations. However, it can pose a serious threat to a country’s marine ecosystem and economy due to the vast range of marine species carried in ships’ ballast water. These include bacteria, microbes, small invertebrates, eggs, cysts and larvae of various species. The transferred species may survive to establish a reproductive population in the host environment, becoming invasive, out-competing native species and multiplying into pest proportions.

Fiji is a hub to many Pacific Islands and territories and is at real risk of introduction of harmful species which could devastate our economy. International Maritime Organisation [IMO] adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (2004). The Convention came into effect on 08 September, 2017. Fiji, who is a party to the convention, is obliged to have a National Strategy in place to deal with the transfer of invasive species via ballast water.

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