International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (IMO-BWM)

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments aims to prevent, minimize and ultimately eliminate the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ships' ballast water and sediments. It was adopted under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London in 2004. The Convention is not yet in force. It will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 States, representing 35% of world merchant shipping tonnage.

Objectives and approach

General Obligations: Under Article 2 ´General Obligations´ Parties undertake to give full and complete effect to the provisions of the Convention and the Annex in order to prevent, minimize and ultimately eliminate the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ships´ ballast water and sediments. Parties are given the right to take, individually or jointly with other Parties, more stringent measures with respect to the prevention, reduction or elimination of the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ships´ ballst water and sediments, consistent with international law. Parties should ensure that ballast water management practices do not cause greater harm than they prevent to their environment, human health, property or resources, or those of other States.

The Convention sets out provisions on, inter alia, facilities for the reception of sediments, on scientific and technical research and monitoring, on survey certification and inspection, and on technical assistance and cooperation. The annexes carry provisions on, inter alia, management and control requirements for ships, standards for ballast water management, and survey and certification requirements for ballast water management.

Institutional structure

The International Maritime Organization overseas the development of the Convention and assists Parties in implementation. The IMO, inter alia, receives reports from Parties and convenes a Conference of the Parties to consider amendments to the Convention if requested by Parties.