ICES/IOC/IMO Working Group on Ballast and Other Ship Vectors



WGBOSVWGBOSVTrueSarah BaileyHAPISGSarah.Bailey@dfo-mpo.gc.ca16ICES/IOC/IMO Working Group on Ballast and Other Ship Vectors

The Working Group on Ballast and Other Ship Vectors (WGBOSV) provides scientific support to the development of international measures aimed at reducing the risk of transporting non-native species via shipping activities.

​​​​The spread of non-native species is now recognized as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and economic well-being of the planet, causing enormous damage to native biodiversity and negatively impacting commercially important natural resources. Shipping vectors, such as ballast water, ballast sediments, in-tank biofouling, and fouled hulls are recognized globally as primary mechanisms for introductions of aquatic non-native species to new habitats. Direct and indirect human health effects are becoming increasingly serious, and damage to the environment is often irreversible. Preventing the transfer of aquatic species and coordinating a timely and effective response to invasions requires prompt cooperation and collaboration among governments, industry bodies, scientists, lawyers, non-governmental organizations and international treaty organizations.

As a joint working group, WGBOSV follows and supports the work of its three umbrella organizations: the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

​Topics addressed by the WGBOSV include:

  • global reviews of shipping vectors for non-native species and general progress in ballast water research
  • risk assessment methods and approval testing of ballast water treatment techniques
  • recommendations on port ballast water sampling programmes
  • consideration of appropriate discharge standards of organisms in ballast water
  • hull fouling regulations and treatment options to reduce the risk of introducing non-native species

WGBOSV submits documents to and participates in meetings at the IMO to ensure that international guidelines are based on accurate scientific information, thereby helping to achieve consensus on difficult and technical issues. The group meets annually and functions through extensive collaboration by expert scientists from all over the world, representing leading knowledge and expertise on this topic.

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