Ninety per cent of global trade still depends on goods carried by sea. The ships that transport them take on significant amounts of ballast water to remain stable when their holds are empty. Discharging that water far from the port of origin can seriously damage the local marine ecosystem.
The Black Sea offers many examples: among them, the introduction of a jellyfish from North America which has depleted plankton stocks to the extent of causing the collapse of local fisheries.
Working with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the EBRD's Shareholder Special Fund has made available €320,000 to fund training and awareness programmes and support the development of the technical and infrastructural capacity required to cope with the problem.
Introductory training sessions were successfully conducted in Russia and Ukraine earlier this year. The second phase, targeting private sector companies, will begin in December.
The project is also aimed at readying the shipping and port sectors to comply with a 2004 IMO convention on ballast water, widely expected to come into full force soon.
“There is, of course, a very good environmental reason why vessel operators, ports and other actors should tackle this problem,” said Craig Davies, a Senior Environmental Adviser in the EBRD’s Environment and Sustainability department.
“However, there is also an important business reason: it will soon become mandatory for the shipping industry to comply with the relevant convention on ships’ ballast water. Those who don’t will face serious operational constraints, as they may not be allowed to call at ports of countries that have ratified the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments.” More