At its annual conference in Cyprus, ISAF today urged yachtsmen in all parts of the world to take notice of the dangers of Invasion of a geographical area by foreign marine species.
Damage attributed to organisms carried by marine craft in ballast water or as bottom growth, includes devastation of fishing, fishing industries and their associated livelihoods, and also by the introduction of pathogens, direct threats to public health. The dangers are so serious, an international task force has been set up, the Global Ballast Water Management Programme (GloBallast). Globallast has a remit to investigate and combat the
New legislation, which is likely to come into force within 3 years, will control ballast water transported by ships. Acting within the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) framework, ISAF has agreed, as an alternative to big-ship legislation which would otherwise have affected all vessels, to prepare special guidelines to ensure that yachts minimise the danger of spreading undesirable species in their ballast water. These guidelines will developed alongside the legislation.
"The action taken by ISAF is much appreciated by the authorities,"
said Steve Raaymakers, of GloBallast.
Raaymakers continued: "However, bottom growth on small craft can be critical: Caribbean striped mussel found in Darwin came from bottom growth on a yacht from the Caribbean, recently arrived via the Panama Canal. The foreign species was so virulent that an entire marina was closed immediately and all marine life within its confines, killed. The potential for environmental damage is so high that these kind of measures are essential."
There are simple steps yachtsmen can take themselves in relation to bottom growth and water ballast transfer, in order to assist in the preservation of local ecosystems:
1, Keep the hull clean
2, Use an environmentally-friendly anti-fouling (not Tributyl Tin)
3, For a major clean, do it out of the water and ensure that the run-off is disposed of inland, safely
4, Until the official guidelines are available, yachts should avoid carrying the same load of ballast water for longer than a day or two.
Further information can be found from your local government or maritime organisation.