Improving the North Sea Region environment and economy by facilitating ratification of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) through enabling implementation, while stimulating the maritime industry to utilize the North Sea Region leading scientific position on aquatic invasions to capitalize this new market opportunity.
The maritime sector is a very important economic pillar for the North Sea Region. As a result, the North Sea is one of the worlds most intensively shipped seas. Unfortunately, ships ballast water is the main source of invasive aquatic organisms. As the North Sea harbours have many important Natura 2000 areas the impact on biodiversity can be massive.
Ships' induced bio-invasions in the recent past has lead to the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC). Implementation of the BWMC is expected to reduce these invasions, however, the Convention has not entered into force as only 14 states -including Norway-, representing 3.5% of world shipping tonnage have ratified the BWMC while 30 States, representing 35% of this tonnage is required.
Implementation of the BWMC creates a new market for innovative products that require research for development. The North Sea Ballast Water Opportunity aims to support the North Sea Region industry to enter this market by capitalizing on the leading reputation of North Sea Region institutes in ecology of invasive marine species and their mitigation.
IMO, HELCOM, and OSPAR provide a platform for policies and legal instruments up to a global level. The EU-FP6 provided us with scientific results on aquatic bio-invasion and mitigation. The Ballast Water Opportunity aimed to complement them with practical solutions and technology by supporting collaboration between the stakeholders on implementation, innovation, and providing opportunities to further reduce bio-invasions. The knowledge gained and networks created would provide a lasting solution for the North Sea Region with regard to ballast water. Thus, the North Sea Region ecosystem could enefit while the North Sea Region maritime industry capitalized the opportunities of the BWMC.