The globalized world has brought much congruent development to the modern world and its people, however, the threat of alien organisms being transported to unwelcome environments is a constant threat in the constantly moving world of transportation and shipping. Ballast water treatment is an essential purification process that ensures that bio-invasion does not occur.
The Ballast System
Have you ever wondered how such titanic vessels stay balanced as they make their journeys across the ocean? This balancing act is achieved through the use of a ballast tank, which is filled with water or a solid material such a gravel, however, most ships today use seawater.
The level of seawater needed to level a ship depends on the properties of the particular ocean a ship happens to be passing through, and water is regularly pumped in our out for a ship and its crew to best navigate through a given situation. This system is especially needed when a ship’s weight is being adjusted, such as when cargo is being loaded or offloaded.
The Usage of Monitoring Software
Following the latest changes in the IMO’s conventions regarding ballast water monitoring, new and advanced monitoring software technology must now be introduced into ballast tanks in order to better identify just what organic life is being hoarded inside tanks. This is done through the installation of ballast water treatment systems or BWTS.
This sophisticated software is designed to raise alarms once bioinvasive contents reach a level that would otherwise cause destructive changes within the indigenous aquatic environment a ship will be returning to. This is achieved by collating and matching data regarding a tank’s contents, both before and after water has been filtered.
This process works by detecting chlorophyll signals found in microorganisms such as phytoplankton, which are detected through the fluorescent light that this biochemical emits. This can be achieved by such finely-tuned software without the usage of explorative chemicals or other more manually-operated sample extraction processes.
Larger organisms are detected through the scanning efforts of lasers, which analyse the density of oceanic stowaways, a process which is run both preceding and succeeding filtration efforts.
The Accumulation of Organisms as a Result of Ballast Water
As one can imagine, all manner of life forms will then become uninvited passengers on a ship with this constant seawater exchange, which can then be easily transported into foreign seas. In the same way that alien plants or animals can cause an upset in a foreign environment, Invasive Aquatic Species will disrupt homeostasis in marine-based ecosystems.
All manner of life will find its way into the bilge of a ship, from simple life forms such as algae and bacteria, to crabs, plankton, mussels, and fish. Waterborne viruses and diseases are an especially dangerous feature of water ballasts, which can easily cause the spread of infection among both sea creatures and humans alike.
The unwitting transportation of Invasive Aquatic Species by the enormous ships that make up much of the world’s economy and trade need constant ballast water treatment, something which of 2017 has become even more stringently enforced and regulated. The MEPC or Marine Environment Protection Committee has begun tackling the environmental issues related to water ballast treatment.