GloBallast and the GEF - The GEF, UNDP, IMO and the Maritime Industry: Catalysing Industry Transformation through the Global Industry Alliance (GIA)

October 20, 2016

Oil products tanker in ballast departures from Lagos, Nigeria.

Mr Shaj U. Thayil is the Chairperson of the GloBallast Global Industry Alliance (GIA) Task Force. A marine engineer by training, with a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Strathclyde, he has extensive maritime experience in building and managing ships. As APL’s Head of Global Technical Services and Managing Director of Neptune Ship Management Services Pte. Ltd., he is responsible for technical and ship management operations and played a leading role in the expansion of APL’s new vessel fleet.

“As a responsible global shipping carrier, APL is dedicated to protecting ocean biodiversity. With ballast water identified as a major threat to the world’s marine ecosystems as a key vector for invasive species transfer, effective ballast water management (BWM) has been a hot topic of discussion among the global shipping industry and scientific community over the years.

My involvement with the GloBallast Programme (a partnership between the GEF, UNDP and the International Maritime Organisation, IMO), commenced when I was approached to represent APL on the GloBallast Global Industry Alliance (GIA). This is an innovative public-private sector partnership created under GloBallast to assist in creating common solutions to address ballast water issues, including new technologies, along with capacity-building activities to benefit the participating private sector companies.

One of the many milestones of GloBallast was their highly awarded documentary, “Invaders of the Sea”, co-produced with the BBC. In one scene, an Iranian fisherman in the Caspian Sea graphically explained the dramatic impact of the invasive comb jelly on the local economy, and the lack of alternative resources to support his family. This was the poster story that was necessary to raise awareness about the damage caused worldwide by harmful invasive aquatic species, estimated at a cost of US$ 100 billion per year.

It is important to understand that marine bioinvasions are the source of important environmental and socio-economic impacts that go beyond the reduction in fisheries production due to competition or predation; they also include impacts on aquaculture or they can jeopardize the development of a tourism industry. Moreover, unlike most other threats to the marine environment, aquatic invasive species are nearly impossible to eradicate.

Participating in the Global Industry Alliance has helped APL to partner with technology providers, the scientific community and governmental organizations, in addressing ballast water issues. In 2011, APL started installing ballast water treatment systems onboard its vessels, to reduce the risks associated with the discharge of non-native aquatic species in foreign waters through the vessels’ ballast water.

Collectively, these efforts have enhanced the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention, and dramatically reduced the damage caused by marine invasive species. As the global shipping industry gets ready to comply with the Convention guidelines once they enter into force, public-private sector partnerships, exemplified through the GloBallast Global Industry Alliance, will raise global momentum in tackling the ballast water issue and developing effective solutions collaboratively.”