The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) says the country is taking proactive steps to address its exposure to the threat of ballast water because of the high tanker traffic on its waters.
The Director General of the agency, Dr Bashir Jamoh, disclosed this in a statement in Lagos on Wednesday, signed by Mr Edwards Osagie, Assistant Director, NIMASA.
Jamoh is quoted as saying this at the 10th Meeting of the National Taskforce (NTF) on Implementation of Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, 2004.
He said that being an oil producing country, Nigeria was prone to the effects of harmful aquatic organisms transported across regions by tankers.
Jamoh said NIMASA was the Lead Agency for the implementation of international conventions, codes, and regulations of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
He said NIMASA had, in conjunction with other members of the NTF, set up a plan for full implementation of the BWM Convention in the country.
Jamoh was represented by the Director, Marine Accident Investigation Unit, Mrs Rita Egbuche
He said, ‘As an oil producing country, we recognise the country’s susceptibility to the danger of ballast water and we have put processes and actions in place to deal with the threat in line with the resolutions of the IMO.
“We will continue to update and fine-tune our strategies as new developments emerge.”
He noted that all ships, especially tankers, carry ballast water while on voyage to maintain stability and operate effectively and safely.
Ballast water, he said, had however also been identified as one of the major vectors for the introduction of invasive alien species in the marine environment.
Jamoh listed activities on the roadmap for Nigeria’s full implementation of the BWM convention.
He said they include development of ballast sediment reception facilities and establishment of globally recognised and integrated BWM testing laboratory.
The director-general also cited the development of regulations and guidelines for ship-owners.
He said they also include the authorisation of Classification Societies and formalisation of agreement with NIMASA on safety and prevention of pollutions survey and certification.
Jamoh said that there was also partnership with relevant research institutions and universities on biological baseline studies of Nigerian ports and coastal states, particularly the sensitive areas with prevalence of marine lives
He said that there was training of Surveyors and Marine Inspectors for the enforcement of the BWM Convention.
The managing director said that there were also plans to designate Ballast Water Management Exchange Areas in Nigerian waters.
He said there were plans to organise sensitisation programmes on BWM for stakeholders on the provisions of the regulations, as well as enforcement and compliance.
“The NTF was constituted in 2010 following a workshop organised by NIMASA, in collaboration with IMO, to develop strategies for full implementation of the BWM convention.
“Nigeria was one of the first eight countries to domesticate the convention on Oct. 5, 2005.
“The country has taken steps towards full compliance with the provisions of the convention, including the development of the Merchant Shipping Regulations for BWM 2012 by NIMASA,” he said.
Jamoh said other steps include the Survey and Certification of applicable ships prior to issuance of the International Ballast Water Management Convention certificate.
He said there was also issuance of Ballast Water Exemption Certificate to ships operating exclusively in Nigerian waters and ships with sealed ballast tanks.
He said there was also preliminary marine biological baseline survey (MBBS) of Lagos ports and environs.
The two-day meeting featured paper presentations on thematic areas covering home-grown ballast water management strategies, among others.