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News Release

February 18, 2004

IJC Commends IMO for Global Ballast Water Convention
and Highlights Significance to Protecting the Great Lakes

The International Joint Commission (IJC) today commended the U.S. and Canadian delegations to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for their successful work in negotiating a ballast water convention after nearly seven years of consultations. In particular, the IJC praised a provision that allows member nations to adopt stricter standards. The IMO is a United Nations agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

The new convention will require all ships to implement a ballast water and sediments management plan, carry a ballast water management record book and be required to carry out ballast water management procedures to a specific standard. Commenting on the convention, IMO Secretary-General Eftimios E. Mitropoulos said its provisions would "prevent, minimize and ultimately eliminate the transfer of harmful aquatic organism and pathogens across the seas and oceans of the world".

"IMO should be congratulated for taking this important step towards stopping the spread of aquatic invaders, and the U.S. and Canadian delegations should be commended for their efforts and diligence," said the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray, Chair of the Canadian Section of the IJC.

"The IJC considers alien invasive species to one of the top threat to biodiversity in the Great Lakes ecosystem," said Dennis Schornack, Chair of the U.S. section of the IJC. "We urge the U.S. and Canada to take advantage of the provision allowing for stricter standards to review proposed domestic legislation for its adequacy to meet or exceed the IMO standard and to push for quick implementation of regulations and needed guidelines."

The IJC co-chairs also noted that they are encouraged by the requirement that all ships must implement ballast water exchange by a certain date, and that no ships will be grandfathered. Moreover, the convention provides incentives for shippers to test and evaluate promising ballast water treatment technologies.

For more information, contact:

Frank Bevacqua (202) 736-9024
Fabien Lengellé (613) 995-0088

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