Ballast water management suppliers find a voice

A new voice for ballast water management suppliers A new voice for ballast water management suppliers

Stakeholders in the ballast water management (BWM) equipment market have formalised an association that seeks to represent suppliers and provide a much needed impartial resource.

Following the announcement of a further delay of the International Maritime Organization’s convention implementation dates at MEPC 71 last year, a small group of industry representatives gathered in New York to draw up the framework of what was to become the Ballastwater Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (BEMA).

The attendees at this seminal meeting on March 9 - comprising representatives of equipment manufacturers, industry stakeholders, and component suppliers from all technologies and regions of the world - adopted a set of draft bylaws and other formation documents, setting the stage for selecting the organisation’s board of directors and electing the first slate of association officers. On April 19 the group convened for their first annual meeting and elected the inaugural board of directors.

The association’s reason for being is the growing demand for well-founded information on ballast water treatment technologies and their practicability, as well as on the technical and environmental aspects of implementing BWM regulations worldwide. While the need may be growing as IMO and US Coast Guard regulations reach new phases, the idea to form an association of BWM manufacturers goes back many years.

“What makes this time different is the realisation that we needed to have a unified voice in the conversation,” says Mark Riggio of Hyde Marine, a member of the initial formation committee who has been elected as the first president of the association. “BEMA will be that voice.”

The association will seek to provide coordinated, technical, non-commercial guidance to both the maritime industry and regulatory agencies. It aims to become a key resource for ship owners, designers, testing equipment suppliers and regulators, facilitating informed and transparent discussion on how systems work and the realistic expectations of each technology across the world fleet.


Marcie Merksamer, vice president of EnviroManagement, was a member of the formation committee and has been elected as secretary general of BEMA.  She has been encouraged by how enthusiastically the equipment manufacturers have embraced the organisation so far.

“We have had a quick and energetic response from suppliers representing all of the major technology types in the industry and from every region of the world,” says Merksamer. “BEMA is truly a global enterprise.”

During the initial formation meeting in London, held during the fifth meeting of IMO’s Pollution Prevention and Response subcommittee (PPR5), the organisers discussed applying for non-governmental organization (NGO) observer status at IMO in 2018.  After consulting with the shipping industry and prospective members, their focus quickly turned to ensuring that the association first provides value to the industry, before revisitng the effort of obtaining IMO acceptance as an NGO.

“There is a lot of value that [BEMA] can provide even before we achieve NGO status,” explains Steve Candito, CEO of Ecochlor - another member of the formation committee, and newly elected to BEMA’s board of directors. “We have already been approached by the International Chamber of Shipping, BIMCO and other ship owner associations to discuss the important implementation challenges.  The industry wants to discuss solutions and we are ready to talk.”

Representatives from Cathelco, Coldharbour, DESMI Ocean Guard, ERMA FIRST, Evoqua, Optimarin, Panasia, and Wӓrtsilӓ were also elected to serve as members of BEMA’s board, ensuring balance with regard to technologies, regions and company size. The remaining elected officers are: Efi Tsolaki (ERMA FIRST) as vice president; Birgir Nilsen (Optimarin) as treasurer; and Andrew Marshall (Coldharbour) as secretary.

BEMA is scheduling meetings with numerous ship owner associations and industry trade groups to provide unbiased direction and advice to their membership about the impending retrofit period, currently scheduled to begin in September of 2019.

BEMA is actively seeking out new members and is recruiting members for the organisation’s committees. Riggio notes: “Representing the entire market is critical if we want to be a truly impartial, technical resource for the shipping and regulatory community.”


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