Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Mar 27, 2002
Industry & Economy - Environment
Ballast water causes eco hazard: Study
KOCHI, March 26
THE discharge of ballast water by ships has created ecological hazards at various ports all over the world including major Indian ports, according to a recent research study undertaken by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and UNDP.
Ballast is the water carried by ships for greater stability when they sail without cargo. India's coastline, spanning over 7,500 km and accommodating 12 major ports and many minor ports, has served as the gateway for marine bio-invasion through ballast water, according to the initial research undertaken by the Global Ballast Water Management Programme and implemented by IMO and UNDP.
The research in India showed that a gamut of organisms contained in the sea water had posed serious threat to the existence of the precious coral reefs of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands. Ocean-faring cargo vessels are also the surrogate carriers of the gloabalisation message.
Apart from carrying goods from one country to another, these ships were promoting globalisation of another kind - transporting bacteria, microbes and other forms of microscopic marine life from one global region to another, the study said.
Mytlopsis saleii (a kind of shellfish) had been found to have invaded and colonised on a large-scale, the Vizag and Mumbai ports. This specie was a native of tropical and subtropical Atlantic waters and was believed to have invaded the Indian waters sometime during 1960s, it said.
According to the research report, another specie from Europe, the Green crab (Carcinus meanas), has been reported from Indian waters. The mollusc and crustacean population on which this crab preys face a danger of extinction.
India is one of the countries selected under GloBallast project and Mumbai has been chosen as the pilot site for undertaking the study. A nodal body under the supervision of IMO has been set up in India to co-ordinate and implement various activities within the country. The other countries selected under GloBallast include Sri Lanka, Singapore, Maldives, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand.
A comprehensive national communication plan is being implemented involving different communities such as the shipping industry, local marine biology experts, coastal residents, fisheries and allied industries and the port authorities.
According to studies done under the GloBallast project by IMO (London), ships transfer about 10 billion tonnes of ballast water around the globe each year. Vessels that trade in the cross trade keep ballasting and deballasting at ports, without realising its impact on the environment.
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