The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments established by the International Maritime Organization entered into force on September 8, 2017. The MOTC' Maritime and Port Bureau and the Taiwan Association of Maritime Pollution Control organized the Ship Ballast Water Seminar on August 2, 2017 to discuss the effects of the promulgation of the Convention on the shipping industry in Taiwan and measures in response.
Maritime shipping plays a crucial role in worldwide trade. However, the inappropriate release of ballast water by ships has caused numerous incidents of pollution by alien invasive species across the world and has led to serious economic losses or loss of lives and properties. The Convention has been signed by 60 countries that account for 68% of the total tonnage of the world's merchant ships. The promulgation of the Convention will bring about drastic changes to the global shipping industry; it also demonstrates the resolve of international society in preventing pollution by alien invasive species resulting from maritime shipping.
Maritime and Port Bureau stated that Taiwan's merchant fleets accounted for 2.58% of total global tonnage in 2016 and were ranked 12th in the world. Taiwan has an advanced shipping industry, and such, this issue should not be taken lightly. In view of frequent shipping operations by foreign ships in Taiwan's ports, the introduction of foreign species through ballast water may unfortunately have a significant impact on Taiwan's maritime ecology. Therefore the Environmental Protection Administration announced in January 2016 that ballast water is now listed as a hazardous substance not to be emitted, and outlawed the exchange of ballast water in Taiwan's territorial waters. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced in August 2015 management standards to be adopted following the promulgation of the Convention, as well as administrative orders to revise the Regulations on Port Services at Commercial Ports and the Ship Equipment Regulations. For the purposes of managing ballast water and standardizing implementation, it also established a "3+1" tiered management system that includes self-management by the ship owner, regular port entry management, special blacklist management, and ballast water alarm management. These measures aim to standardize management and inspections of ballast water.
The Seminar was an important event in domestic shipping; it was attended by over a hundred people from the industry, government, and academia, including people from Maritime and Port Bureau; Harbor and Marine Technology Center; Environmental Protection Administration, Coast Guard Administration, Taiwan International Ports Corporation, shipping companies, ballast water pollution processing equipment companies, National Cheng Kung University, and National Sun Yat-sen University. Professor Ta-Gang Liu of Cheng Kung University brought up four suggestions in the seminar: "The position of the ballast water exchange area should be clearly indicated; the government should provide assistance in installation of ballast water equipment; controls and inspections of port nations should be strengthened; and standard operating procedures should be established for joint inspections." Maritime and Port Bureau shall study and discuss the recommendations for implementation.