There's something in the water

 作者:乌提恍     |      日期:2019-03-07 09:10:03
By Tim Thwaites in Melbourne AUSTRALIA will be the first country to introduce strict regulations aimed at halting the invasion by marine pests in ships’ ballast water. Last week the government announced that all ships docking at Australian ports from mid-2001 will have to comply with the new rules. Ships need ballast water to keep them stable while their holds are empty. It is discharged when the ship takes on cargo, so as the fourth biggest exporter of bulk commodities in the world, Australia feels particularly vulnerable to invasion by organisms carried in the water. At present some 12 000 foreign cargo vessels discharge 150 million tonnes of ballast water off Australia each year. Recent invaders include the northern Pacific seastar, Asterias amurensis, which threatens indigenous species around Tasmania (New Scientist, 24 February 1996, p 4), and the large seaweed Undaria, which has all but eliminated abalone from parts of the coasts of Tasmania and Victoria. The new regime will replace existing voluntary guidelines. Any ship wishing to dock in Australia must register with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and provide information on the source of its ballast water, including the time of day and the depth from which it was taken. On the basis of this information the ship’s master will be advised how to manage the ballast water before docking. Those who fail to comply can ultimately be refused permission to land. Australia’s decision follows the failure of the International Maritime Organization to agree regulations for ballast water management at a meeting in London in March. Ship owners and port authorities are concerned about the cost of compliance, particularly if other maritime nations introduce separate regulations. At present, the most common method of managing ballast water is to exchange it at sea for deep ocean water, which has no pests or diseases of concern. This can cost between $4000 and $6000 per voyage. Technologies that might be cheaper—including biocides,