IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) could enter into force with no further flag state ratifications, IMO’s secretariat has confirmed to BWTT.
In a break from its normal procedures, it is now updating its database of flag state fleets every month, instead of at the end of each year. As a result, it is possible that – due to the normal daily variations in flag state tonnages – the percentage covered by states that have ratified the BWMC could pass the 35 per cent threshold as a result of an end-month reappraisal of its existing parties.
One observer commented to BWTT that, with the BWMC’s shortfall now so low, “the general ebb and flow of flag states’ tonnage could drift it over the line.” Asked to confirm that this is a possibility, an IMO secretariat spokeswoman said: “potentially and theoretically, yes.”
IMO’s change in policy was revealed in an aside in an announcement earlier this week when Belgium became the 48th state to ratify the convention. It added, in brackets, “based on global tonnage data as at end-February 2016.”
The policy affects all IMO conventions, although none are as sensitive to small changes in the data as the BWMC. The spokeswoman gave Solas as an example: Although the number of parties to the convention (162) has not changed since the start of the year, the proportion of the world’s tonnage they represent has risen from 98.60 per cent to 98.74 per cent, based on the end-February data.