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Offshore Support Journal

Ballast Water Treatment Technology

There is strength in numbers

Sat 14 Apr 2018

There is strength in numbers
BEMA’s formational meeting brought together 13 participants with another 25 dialling in (credit: Hyde Marine)

Mark Riggio* explains why and how he and others have given the ballast sector a unified voice

Manufacturers and stakeholders in the ballast water management system (BWMS) market took a major step forward by codifying a unified manufacturers association in March. The paramount need for this association arose following the postponement of the implementation dates for IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention, which was agreed in July 2017 during the Marine Environment Protection Committee’s 71st meeting.

After that, a small group of us – all dedicated industry insiders – gathered in New York to draw up the framework of what was to become the Ballastwater Equipment Manufacturers Association (BEMA), which moved from concept to reality at its first official meeting on 9 March.

Attendees at that meeting, made up of representatives of equipment manufacturers, stakeholders and component suppliers from all technologies and regions of the world, voted on and adopted a set of draft bylaws and other formation documents, setting the stage for forming the organisation’s board of directors and electing its first slate of association officers.

The idea of forming an association of BWMS manufacturers had been around for many years, and there were a few efforts to get it done to no avail. What makes this time different is the industrys realisation that we need to have a unified voice in the conversation. BEMA will be that voice.

We have set up BEMA as a registered trade association based in the US to provide co-ordinated, technical, non-commercial guidance to both the maritime industry and regulatory agencies that are trying to understand the intricacies of ballast water treatment. BEMA will serve as a key resource for shipowners, designers, testing equipment suppliers and regulators to discuss openly how ballast water treatment systems work, how they are designed, and what the reasonable expectations of systems are, as they are installed and operated across the world fleet.

Another member of our formation committee was Marcie Merksamer of EnviroManagement. She has found it “encouraging to see how enthusiastically the equipment manufacturers have embraced the organisation” and remarked on the “quick and energetic response from suppliers representing all of the major technology types in the industry and from every region of the world.” It is no exaggeration to describe BEMA as a truly global enterprise.

Our initial formation meeting took place in London, during the fifth meeting of IMO’s Pollution Prevention and Response Sub-Committee (PPR5) in February. We initially discussed applying for non-governmental organisation observer status at IMO this year, but after consultations with both industry and prospective members, our focus turned to ensuring that the association first provides value to the industry. Another of our founders, Ecochlor chief executive Steve Candito, counselled that “there is a lot of value that the association can provide even before we achieve NGO status at IMO.”

BEMA held its first official board meeting on 19 April and we will also be scheduling meetings with shipowner associations and industry trade groups to provide unbiased direction and advice about the impending retrofit period, currently scheduled to begin in September 2019.

BEMA is already attracting attention and has been approached by ICS, BIMCO, and others to discuss important implementation challenges. It is clear that the industry wants to discuss solutions, and we are ready to talk.

For more information on BEMA, visit the association’s website at

*Mark Riggio is senior market manager for BWMS maker Hyde Marine



BEMA’s objectives

BEMA will provide manufacturers and service providers with leadership and a unified voice. To accomplish this mission, we have set some key objectives, which are summarised here:

• Represent and serve as a central, common voice for ballast water equipment manufacturers

• Promote the application of effective technology in ballast water treatment operations, consistent with applicable regulations, current status of the art and sound engineering practice

• Provide design and operational expertise to balance the numerous perspectives of regulators, shipowner organisations, scientific testing networks and environmental organisations

• Participate at IMO and represent the industry to advance knowledge about the design, manufacture, installation, maintenance and long-term functionality of ballast water treatment systems

• Provide and stimulate authoritative organised research, education and information exchange within the industry and with other industries, government bodies and interested organisations

• Mobilise and finance voluntary, staff and professional expertise to provide the required range of service to members

• To maintain liaison and co-operate with governmental agencies and trade and professional associations.

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