Environmental Risk

Management System for Ballast Water Assessment


Undesirable spreading of exotic organisms has been described as the biggest threat to biodiversity and as the next big pollution challenge for the shipping industry. Spreading of exotic organisms can lead to irreversible processes effecting human health and industrial activities as well as the ecological balance of the seas.

IMO’s guidelines do not provide a complete solution to the problem in that the total prevention of the introduction of unwanted organisms through ballast water is not possible. It is generally accepted that much can be done to minimise the risks using risk assessment methodology. However, further research and development of ballast water management and treatment options is still required. Major challenges is to co-ordinate further work on a global basis and establish a common "platform" where relevant information are recorded and utilised in minimising the risk of biological invasions. Input to this "platform" could for example be target lists of unwanted organisms and environmental data worked out by local, alternatively international experts from regions/countries/ports all over the world.

Norwegian authorities are in this project supporting an initiative from Det Norske Veritas aiming at using a risk based approach and co-ordinating individual efforts in order to safeguard the environment from effects caused by ballast water operations.


The program objectives is the development of a risk based ballast water management approach that will contribute to the cessation of transfer of harmful organisms in ballast water. The management approach combines an electronic map database with a risk matrix. The risk assessment approach shall be flexible and allow for case specific assessment so that resources and risk reducing measures can be allocated to the "high risk" cases. This will reduce overall costs at the same time as the efficiency and reliability of the management process is improved.

Project Description

The Ballast Water Transfer Atlas development comprises two phases. Phase I is a pre-study while phase II is composed of an Integration phase and a Development phase. Phase I of the project was finalised in April-99. Phase II of the project will be carried out over the next three years. The different phases are described below.

Phase I - Pre-study

The feasibility of introducing a risk based approach based upon the principles and laws of biogeography in order to provide support allowing safe ballast operations to be undertaken have been conducted. The study has identified a foundation for the development of a Ballast Water Transfer Atlas providing hazard assessment and decision support. The study has emphasised the requirements to data, to the development of a risk matrix and to the tools required making this system available to the shipping industry, ports and/or authorities. The risk assessment methodology framework is presented in figure 1.

The study has revealed the need for further work to be undertaken. Some general requirements to this have been identified. Further, the study has appreciated the necessity to invite other institutions and organisations to work together in a proposed initiative to realise the Ballast Water Transfer Atlas.

A demo of the Ballast Water Transfer Atlas presenting the principles of the system, has been developed in Phase I. The demo has been developed in an electronic map database where information on route network, vessel types, reballasting zones, temperature zones, salinity zones and biological sub-provinces, etc. is entered. In this way a basis for global biogeographical division has been established. In time the data level will be expanded and the information can, in a longer term, be broken down to a higher degree of detail. The system shall gradually be expanded to enable the provision of information about the organisms’ possibility of survival with reference to the different routes, information about capacity for reproduction after such transport, etc.

Demonstration of an applicability study examining one isolated shipping activity between two biologically compatible regions.

The work of the pre study is further presented in DNV’s technical report: Norwegian research Council – MARMIL; Ballast Water transfer Atlas. Hazard Assessment and Decition Support.

Figure 1 Risk assessment methodology framework.

Phase II - Integration Phase

Based on the knowledge of previous work and experience it is recommended to continue the work on establishing an international ballast water atlas as issued during the pre-study. The work should be co-ordinated and administered through a consortium with representatives from the maritime industry, authorities and scientists. To ensure high level of agreement and co-operation in the process, knowledge of previous work worldwide should be leaned upon. Efforts will be made in phase II in order to create a consortium. EU Concerted Action Group, international/regional organisations and institutions involved in Conserted Actions work and IMO will be relevant members. The consortium should further be represented by different levels of the maritime industry (operator, skip owner, organisations) and authorities to ensure balance and consistency towards users, environmental interests and laws and regulations.

The consortium should identify and assign a secretary function responsible for distribution of information, co-ordination of meetings etc. The use of electronically online facilities to ensure sufficient information and data flow makes the need for a close geographical localisation less relevant. A set of working groups with responsibility for the different tasks of future work will be established. The consortium will meet regularly and status reports from the different working groups will be presented at the meetings.

Phase II will be divided into an integration phase for detailing the future process and a development phase. Contents and task of these phases are outlined below.

Integration phase

The integration phase will encompass definition of technological solution and tools thereof. In addition partners and members of the consortium will be identified. In figure 2 the proposed time schedule of the Integration phase is presented.

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Figure 2 Proposed time schedule of the Integration phase.


Part of the Integration phase will be to present the pre-study to relevant partners and members of the consortium. This is viewed upon as an important task. A presentation was held at the IMO/ICES (International Maritime Organisation/ International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) meeting in Wales on the 12-13th of April. Other already scheduled presentations will be held at the MEPC (Marine Environmental Protection Committee) meeting in London in June, with a prior presentation for the EU Conserted Action Group.

Establishment of Consortium / Administration of the system

The establishment of the consortium and its tasks will be an ongoing process all through the Integration phase and the first part of the Development phase.

Establishment of Library and web-site

To ensure sufficient flow of information within the consortium it is recommended to establish an Internet web site. The information will in the first phase be available for participants of the work only. As the work continues it will be relevant to establish an official web-site presenting status of work. The access to information through the Internet will make information available at low cost. It will also make information available to other interested parties of the maritime activity.

Identifying users

The users of the system need to be identified to ensure sufficient user interface level and availability of the system. This is looked upon as one of the most important issues of the Integration phase. It is expected that users can be among operators, ship owners and public authorities of ports or environmental authorities in general. The work will end up with a clear definition of the users and their needed level of knowledge. This information will be part of the basis for the establishment of the technological solution.

Evaluation of pre-study / Identification of knowledge mismatch

An important part of the Integration phase is identification of mismatch in knowledge with respect to the different elements discussed in the pre-study. This process should encompass evaluation and definition of proposed biogeographical regions, targets lists, historical lists and the different steps thereof.

It is also recommended to perform an evaluation and literature study on methodology on sampling of ballast water. Presently there exists information from several studies not necessarily comparable due to different sampling techniques. The results of the study will be presented as a status report and proposal for future work (development phase) needed to establish a set of approved techniques for ballast water sampling.

Parallel to the monitoring study a similar study on transfer prevention techniques will be performed. As for the monitoring study a report encompassing status and proposal for future work will be presented.

Evaluation of Risk Matrix

One of the most important and demanding tasks of the Integration phase is expected to be the identification of mismatch in knowledge with respect to the different elements of the risk matrix. The establishment of a set of probability/uncertainty evaluations for factors influencing on risk assessment is needed. A set of consequence categories with acceptance criteria will be defined. In addition the flow and process of the risk matrix has to be identified and specified.

Define content and functionality of data structure

A separate task of the Integration phase will be to define the database structure to support the system. In addition each sub-database and tables thereof with respect to content and function must be described. The already established and proposed databases will form the basis of the work. The results of this task will be a detailed system of requirements of each level of the data structure.

Define content and layout of GIS

A similar task as the definition of content and functionality of data structure, will be performed on the GIS part of the system. This must be performed in close agreement with the data structure functionality. The established demo version of the GIS will form the basis of the work. The results of this task will be a detailed system of requirements of each level of the GIS with links to the data structure.

Expand the GIS demo

As part of the work on establishing partners and interest in the system it is recommended to detail the screening GIS demo version as it stands today. Detailed information of relevant parameters related to selected ports should be implemented. To ensure international interest it is recommended to select important donor and recipient ports of ballast water in all parts of the world.

Phase III - Development phase 2000 - 2002

Image52.gif (9969 bytes)In the Development phase tasks identified during the Integration phase described above will be performed. The main tasks are listed in figure 3.

Figure 3 Proposed time schedule of the Development phase.

Sub-tasks within each activity will be identified, described and assigned as part of the Integration phase. Some activities will be ongoing processes during the whole lifetime of the system. These are identification of partners, web site and system maintenance and status revisions of the system as a whole. Other tasks will be closed after the development phase. Further development will be performed based on comments given during status revisions.


Phase I – Pre Study

Estimated cost of phase I of the program is 600 000 NKr. Phase I is financed as follows:

Phase II and III – Integration and Development phase

Phase II of the program require support from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and an active participation and funding from other external organisations.

The budget of the Integration phase of the program is 1,4 million NKr. Funding for the Integration phase have been applied for from the Research Council of Norway, Norwegian Shipowner’s Association, Nordic Council of Ministers and INTERTANKO. Det Norske Veritas will provide funding also for the Integration phase.

Funding will be applied for from European Union’s 5th Framework Program to finance the Development phase.


Phase I: October 1998-April 1999

Phase II: Integration phase: 1999

Development phase: 2000-2002


The work is expected performed in co-operation with European Concerted Action Group.

Establishment of contact with groups working on ballast-water issues in Northern Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand etc. is sought.

Project Administration and Contact Details

Project Manager Aage Björn Andersen
Direct line: +47 67 578586
E-mail: Aage.Bjorn.Andersen@dnv.com

Hanna Lee Behrens
Direct line: +47 67 578290
E-mail: Hanna.Lee.Behrens@dnv.com

Det Norske Veritas
Veitasveien 1
N-1363 Høvik

Tlf: +47 67 579900/Fax: +47 67 579911