A chemist, Dr Chukwuemeka Isanbor, on Thursday urged shipping operators to ensure proper management of ballast water to minimise its ecological, economic and health hazards on humans.
Isanbor, a Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, University of Lagos, gave the advice during a Sensitisation and Awareness programme on Ballast Water, organised by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos.
TheElite Times reports that ballast water is water carried in ships’ ballast tanks to improve stability, balance and trim. It is taken up or discharged when cargo is unloaded or loaded.
When ships take on ballast water, plants and animals that live in the ocean are also picked up.
Isandor said studies had revealed that invasion of such organisms caused harmful ecological, economic and health challenges in the host environment.
“When ships were first built years ago, they carried solid ballast in the form of rocks, sand and metals.
“However, since around 1880, ships have used water as ballast principally because it is more readily available and much easier to load on and off a ship and is, therefore, more efficient and economical than solid ballast,” sanbor said.
He said the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) noted that over the past century, the impact of invasive alien species (IAS) had been particularly high on islands.
Isanbor said it was predicted in the assessment that the impact of IAS over the coming decades would grow in intensity, especially in inland waters and coastal areas.
He said IAS were recognised as one of the major direct causes of biodiversity loss and changes in the ecosystem.
Isanbor said there was need ensure that suitable sample port and sample probe were installed on vessels.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Usman, said it was important for the authority to sensitise the shipping companies to avoid ecological health hazards due to lack of proper management of ballast water.
Usman, represented by Capt. Ebubeogu Ihenacho, General Manager, MD’s Office said the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) had a convention to regulate ballast water and to control the transfer of invasive species.
“The International Maritime Organisation adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) in February 2004,” Usman said.
The managing director said the purpose of the convention was to prevent, minimise and ultimately eliminate the risk of introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens which used the ballast water as a hub.
The Assistant General Manager, Health Safety and Environment, NPA, Mrs Kadijat Sheidu-Shabi, urged stakeholders to take advantage of the sensitisation and improve the management of ballast water.