House passes maritime protection Bill

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, July 12, 2018

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THE House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a Bill which gives effect to a Cabinet decision to incorporate into domestic law the provisions of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, which addresses the threat of harmful, invasive marine species.

The Ballast Water Management Act provides for the prevention and minimising of risks to the environment, property and health arising from harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ships' ballast water and sediments.

Ballast water is water carried in ships to improve stability and balance, and is taken up or discharged when cargo is loaded or unloaded, or when a ship needs extra stability in harsh weather. But when ballast water is taken on, animals and plants that live in the sea are also collected and later deposited in other maritime territories when these vessels discharge that water.

Transport Minister Robert Montague noted that Jamaica signed the convention in 2004, but has not been “faithful” to that agreement, which was adopted by the International Maritime Organization.

“The convention was adopted to provide a global legal framework for the regulation and management of ships' ballast water and the sediment that remains in the tank of the vessel when the ballast water has been discharged,” he said. “What you find is that they discharge this water into our port and in the water are foreign species, and you can have contamination. There is a very strange case of cholera, I recall, being introduced into a port because they took on water.

“The new convention asks that you take up the ballast water from the home port and once you hit international water, it is discharged, and you take up international water and when you get into the visiting port, you discharge the ballast water. A lot of ships are not following the rules and regulations, and Jamaica, having signed on to the treaty, has to pass the necessary laws,” he said.

Montague emphasised that it was important to enact the domestic law to protect Jamaica's waters from harmful species and disease. He informed the House of Representatives that globally 10 billion tonnes of ballast water is transferred annually, and approximately 10,000 species, including invasive aquatic species, are carried daily in ballast tanks.

“The transfer of invasive aquatic species in the ballast has contributed to the collapse of fisheries, the increased risk of the spread of cholera, shell fish poisoning in humans, and increased maintenance cost on the part of power-generating plants due to the crowding of their cooling intake pipes,” he explained.

The minister pointed out that the Asian green mussels found in the Kingston Harbour was identified by The University of the West Indies as having been introduced into Jamaican waters via ballast water. He noted that given the increasing trans-shipment activities in Jamaican waters, the country is at risk of having these species introduced into the maritime environment.

The legislation will be administered by the Maritime Authority.

Meanwhile, debate also started Tuesday on a Bill to create a modern statutory instrument which addresses the critical principles of trust law, including the procedures for the appointment and removal of trustees and general fiduciary duties.

The Trusts Act (2018), which repeals the Trustee Act, provides for the creation, validity and enforceability of trusts; identifies the property which may be held on trust; and establishes the procedure for the appointment and removal of trustees.

It includes provisions for the keeping of accounts, impartiality, the giving of information, the separation of trust and property, and the preservation of trust property. The Bill also provides for the power to relieve trustees from personal liability and indemnification of trustees by beneficiaries, and for the settlement of actions against trustees by alternative dispute resolution.

Opening the debate, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister Daryl Vaz said the Bill addresses the need of a modern community in which investors have increased the use of trusts as a vehicle to enhance their returns. The Trusts Act is retroactive and will apply to trusts created before the commencement of the Act, unless otherwise stated in the legislation.

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