(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) The GCC ministers and senior officials in charge of environment affairs have unveiled plans to join the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM) to protect the marine environment in the Arabian Gulf. In the final communique of their 17th meeting, concluded in the Bahraini capital , Manama earlier Thursday, the GCC officials stressed the importance of speeding up efforts to join the BWM convention.
They noted that the move would give impetus to the efforts aiming to secure the marine life. They called for active participation in the upcoming international Ballast Water Management Conference to be held in Muscat next February.
It is noted that the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, adopted by the UN in 2004, aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another, by establishing standards and procedures for the management and control of ships' ballast water and sediments. Under the Convention, all ships in international traffic are required to manage their ballast water and sediments to a certain stanard, according to a ship-specific ballast water management plan. All ships will also have to carry a ballast water record book and an international ballast water management certificate.
The ballast water management standards will be phased in over a period of time. As an intermediate solution, ships should exchange ballast water mid-ocean. However, eventually most ships will need to install an on-board ballast water treatment system.
The GCC officials also agreed on boosting cooperation with the UN Environment Program for West Asia region to materialize the environment projects included its strategic plan for 2014-2017, and underlined the need for increasing the environment projects carried out within the framework of the Kuwait-based Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME). The conferees asked the GCC General Secretariat to coordinate with the Manama-based Regional Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) in protecting the region from radioactive pollution. They also endorsed plans for cooperation with the Green Gulf Initiative as well as relevant Turkish and Moroccan organizations.