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Habitat Watch # 291
Great Lakes United
February 8-February 14, 2004

International Maritime Organization adopts ballast water convention

On Friday in London, an international convention to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species carried by ships' ballast water was adopted by the International Maritime Organization. The IMO is the United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution from ships. The IMO announcement is at:

The convention will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 countries, representing 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage.

The convention will require all ships to implement and record their compliance with a ballast water and sediments management plan. All ships constructed after 2009 will be required to carry out and record their compliance with ballast water management procedures set to a given performance standard. Ships constructed before 2009 will be required to do the same, but after phase-in period. The performance standard is based on the total volume of viable organisms of two different size ranges, per cubic meter discharged. Additional standards are set for three indicator microorganisms that are dangerous to human health. Ballast water exchange is likely to be the most commonly used management option in the near future and during the phase-in periods. Ballast water exchange is defined in the convention as a 95% exchange of ballast water by volume, or flushing tanks three times in designated ballast water exchange zones in the ocean.

Countries that sign onto the convention will also be bound by requirements to: · Establish reception facilities for tank sediments
· Promote and facilitate research and monitoring · Cooperate with other countries who require technical assistance
· Survey and certify ships, and allow detailed ship inspections by port inspectors

As the impacts of this convention are discussed, there are likely to be questions surrounding the interpretation of many requirements including alternate management provisions (such as the ability of countries to set more stringent standards and timelines), lengthy phase-in periods; approval and use of chemical control options; concerns with permitting alternate ballast water exchange zones, and; specific ship exemptions.

For a link to a letter sent by the International Joint Commission and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to U.S. and Canadian negotiators during the convention discussions, go to:

Canada to be investigated for not protecting migratory birds

In ongoing developments on a binational citizen groups petition that migratory birds were not being protected from clearcut logging in Canada (see Habitat Watch #276 and #255), officials with the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation have recommended that Canada be investigated for not enforcing the Migratory Birds Convention Act. The final decision on whether there will be an investigation rests with the CECís three council members, one of whom is Canadian Minister of the Environment David Anderson. If the investigation proceeds, it may result in the international treaty being updated and modified to apply to forestry operations. The Toronto Star has more:

Mark Your Calendars! Great Lakes Unitedís Annual General Meeting
June 4-6th, 2004, Mercyhurst College, Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Great Lakes Unitedís Habitat and Biodiversity Task Force produces Habitat Watch with support from the George Gund Foundation and GLU coalition members. The task force is committed to protecting natural areas, wildlife, and strong conservation laws across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem. To join the coalition, subscribe, or send stories, contact GLU at: (716) 886-0142; fax: (716) 886-0303; or email: Past issues of Habitat Watch can be found at:

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