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 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 the primary mechanism through which these species are spread. Human health effects are becoming increasingly serious, and damage to the environment is often irreversible. Preventing the transfer of aquatic species and coordinating an effective response to invasions requires 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 Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and ICES.
Topics addressed by the group include: reviews of shipping vectors and progress in ballast water research, risk assessment methods and testing of ballast water treatment techniques, recommendations on port ballast water sampling programmes, considerations of discharge standards for organisms in ballast water, and hull fouling regulations and treatment options.