Ballast water- Intro Problem Activities Analyses Database/Vessel Tracking

The Ballast Water Problem

The discovery that marine species could be translocated in the ballast water of modern steel ships was first reported by Ostenfeld (1908). Large vessels take on and discharge ballast water primarily to adjust buoyancy and trim in response to changes in load and sea conditions. Ballast water is usually carried in dedicated ballast tanks, and sometimes in empty cargo holds. This essential vessel operation can result in the transport of large volumes of water from one coastal region to another, along with the resident organisms (Figure 1). The long-distance dispersal of marine microbes, plants and animals in ship ballast water is a potential environmental problem because, although the oceans are continuous, coastal marine life is geographically discontinuous. Many cases of exotic or non-indigenous species introductions have been documented, resulting in ecological and economic repercussions (e.g. Cohen 1998).

Ballast Water- The Problem


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