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Malaysia and the Ballast-Water Management Convention: An Analysis


Journal: Journal of Sustainability Science and Management
ISSN 1823-8556

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 125;
Date: 2010;
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Ballast water is essential for ships to maintain balance, stability and structural integrity, especially when sailing without cargo. Since the late 19th century, ships have used ballast water, which is pumped from surrounding water into clean tanks and potentially-dirty cargo holds (Carlton, 1985). IMO defines ballast water as ‘water with its suspended matter taken on board a ship to control trim, draught, stability, or stresses of a ship’. Generally, ballast water is taken aboard when cargo is unloaded and is discharged at the port of destination before loading new cargo. Ballast also helps ferry, military and fishing vessels to manoeuvre, facilitate control during loading conditions and maintain stability. For tankers and dry-bulk carriers, ballast water is used in larger quantities to make up for weight loss after unloading the cargo they carry. Unfortunately, ballast water is now considered one of the major vectors for the transport of planktonic organisms (Lavoie et al., 1999). A wide diversity of organisms is known to occur in ships’ ballast water and associated sediments (Smith et al., 1999; Zhang and Dickman, 1999; Drake et al., 2001; Bailey et al., 2003). The subsequent discharge of ballast water results in many organisms being released at ports-of-call and/or in transit, creating numerous opportunities to establish non-native populations. According to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) 2002, marine bio-invasion through ballast water is the second greatest threat to marine biodiversity after over-exploitation. It has also been identified as one of the four greatest threats to the world’s oceans; the other three being land-sourced pollution, over-fishing and climate change. This concern is also recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that fears not only the detrimental ecological impacts on the marine ecosystems and its economical repercussions, but also the threats posed on human health.
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