Ballast water transferred by vessels is recognized by the United Nations as a prominent vector for transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens across natural barriers.
The volume of Ballast Water discharged in the Adriatic Sea ports is above 10 million tons per year.
In the whole Adriatic region 190 non-indigenous species were registred by Zenetos et al. (2010).
The BALMAS project integrates all necessary activities to enable a long-term, environmentally efficient and financially and maritime transport sustainable implementation of ballast water management measures in the Adriatic.
Within BALMAS we will establish a common cross-border system linking all Adriatic research, experts and national responsible authorities in order to avoid the unwanted risks to the environment and humans from the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ships’ ballast waters and sediments.
The 4th Regular BALMAS Meeting took place in Dürres, Albania between 24th and 26th of March 2015, on which the most outstanding achievements on the BALMAS project were presented. This meeting was co-organized by the Lead Partner - Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia and by the project partner FB16 - Agriculture University of Tirana, which hosted the meeting.
On the first day of the meeting fruitful results of the following work package were presented: port baseline surveys and taxonomical identification of all species found in ports, especially focused on Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens (HAOP). A cross-border network of qualified taxonomists was successfully presented, as well as BALMAS HAOP Database, in which all the results from the port baseline activities are going to be gathered. Furthermore, the most important achievement of the BALMAS project so far is development of the internet Geographic Information System (GIS) application with common shared AIS (Automatic Identification System) database containing vessel traffic information, which allows different analyses and mapping of shipping related information. In the frame of the BALMAS strategic planning, inter correlation of individual work packages has begun. The integration of work packages has been the main point of discussions on the second day of the meeting. A final integration of all work packages will result in the Ballast water management plan for the Adriatic Sea, in which risk assessment, early warning system, ballast water reporting system, compliance monitoring and enforcement systems under joint decision supporting system with legal, institutional and financial sustainability will be integrated. On the final day of the 4th Regular BALMAS Meeting outputs and results of the horizontal work package – cross-border project management and coordination were presented, including the evaluation of the BALMAS project for the first 15 months. At the end also results of dissemination of the BALMAS project and the main achievements in capitalization and sustainability were shown and discussed.
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