Ships' Ballast Water and Invasive Marine Species

Introduction of Invasive Marine Species by Ships' Ballast Water

The introduction of invasive marine species into new environments by ships' ballast water, attached to ships' hulls and via other vectors has been identified as one of the four greatest threats to the world's oceans. The other three are land-based sources of marine pollution, overexploitation of living marine resources and physical alteration/destruction of marine habitat. Shipping moves over 80% of the world's commodities and transfers approximately 3 to 5 billion tonnes of ballast water internationally each year. A similar volume may also be transferred domestically within countries and regions each year. Ballast water is absolutely essential to the safe and efficient operation of modern shipping, providing balance and stability to un-laden ships. However, it may also pose a serious ecological, economic and health threat.