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Panama: Accession to Multilateral Treaty on Invasive Species

(Dec. 5, 2016) In October 2016, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that Panama has acceded to the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (known as the Ballast Water Management, or BWM, Convention). Panama is the 53rd country to take that step.  Panama is the largest shipping industry flag state in the world, with over 18% of world merchant shipping tonnage.  (Press Release, Panama Accedes to Global Treaty to Halt Invasive Aquatic Species (Oct. 19, 2016), IMO website.)

The BWM Convention will become effective on September 8, 2017, and will impose requirements on ships aimed at managing their ballast water, with the goal of preventing invasive water species from spreading, as that may negatively impact biodiversity and ecosystems. (Id.)   According to the IMO,

Ballast water is routinely taken on by ships for stability and structural integrity. It can contain thousands of aquatic microbes, algae and animals, which are then carried across the world’s oceans and released into ecosystems where they are not native. …

The Ballast Water Management Convention will require all ships in international trade to manage their ballast water and sediments to certain standards, according to a ship-specific ballast water management plan. (Press Release, Global Treaty to Halt Invasive Aquatic Species to Enter into Force in 2017 (Sept. 8, 2016), IMO website.)